For the past six months, I’ve been in a depression in realizing that over the last four years I’ve only experienced two things: accomplishment and anger.
I left writing duties early on IGNITED, a series I co-wrote with Mark Waid that was part of a universe that I co-created for Humanoids. There is a time commitment to creating comics at a corporate beat and though I was recruited as a creative architect due to my success authoring BLACK – there was a lack of freedom that didn’t align with why I love to make comics.
That I do so in my spare time while holding a full-time job affords me the ability to walk away from a project but it is also a double-edged sword – I literally don’t have time to waste. So I took a sabbatical from writing, anything really, to clear my head on how I could proceed.
Don’t misread this, I’m proud of what we produced at Humanoids in H1 Comics, this is deeper than that because I find myself equally frustrated with BLACK – a universe that I created and have the creative freedom to do with as I please or so one would think.
BLACK garnered a lot of attention at launch and has since become a popular piece in conversations around comic books and anti-blackness. I’ve been fortunate that it’s been well-received enough to garner media options and allowed me to continue telling stories in the universe.
However, the proverb of “be careful what you wish for” hits a bit stronger for me now because with that success has come the pressures and frustration of BLACK becoming a franchise. Who can complain about that, save that success has yet to provide financially what I really want – time to focus on what I love, which is writing.
I wrote BLACK in my spare time without zeitgeist, deadlines, or anticipation, a freedom I’d dreamed of since I was a child. Visions of my older self, alone in a quiet and secluded space crafting my imaginings into some vivid narrative that might tantalize and inspire my younger self.
It’s a wholly different reality in the era of social media and self-publishing. Writing now comes with having a personality that elevates your profile from the noise of trying to garner influence. The fledgling author of today is the entrepreneur unless the golden goose of a publisher with hooks into their works. The gamble of creative control now or later, both hanging on the elusiveness of notoriety but each with their own costs – spin all the plates yourself or spin one in hopes that others keep aloft.
Am I holding two double-edged swords now?
My sole ambition has been to write, specifically sequential art stories, and yet I’ve found myself frustrated, overwhelmed, and too often paralyzed by all that comes with that. I’ve not allowed myself that joy in some time because there have been emails, interviews, taxes, scripts, contracts, campaigns, appearances, customer service, web development, tweets, and all number of things deemed important before writing.
I don’t think my situation is remotely unique but there is catharsis in committing these to characters on a screen. It allows me to recenter what my personal goals are again, to write, but more so to prioritize it above all else because it is what makes me happy.
And aren’t we supposed to prioritize our happiness?