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What I Learned From Taking a Year off From Comics (And Why I Wish I Hadn’t)

12 Jan

Which is worse—moving in the wrong direction or not moving at all?

It’s a question that I recently heard on an episode of Scriptnotes, an amazing podcast about screenwriting (and just writing in general) and I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since. The reason why the question struck such a chord in me is because I feel like I just spent the past year not moving at all, in lieu of accidentally moving in the wrong direction and now that I’m on the other side of it I have to wonder if it did me any good.

Probably not. But at the same time, it wasn’t completely worthless.

It’s not like I went into 2015 thinking “yeah, I deserve a break.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. I remember clearly what my emotional state was last New Year’s Eve. I had big things brewing, big opportunities on the horizon and a lot of lofty ideas about how I wasn’t even going to be the same person in a year’s time. Only one of those things ended up being true and not in the way I was imagining.

So why did I fall off the face of the comic world for a year? The answer is something that I think all comic book creators go through at some point in their careers.

happy-new-year-crappy-old-year

The Little Red Hen Syndrome

As a comic book writer, I often liken myself to the story of The Little Red Hen.  If you’ve never read the story as a kid, the Cliff Notes version is that this little red hen wants to make some bread, so she goes around the farm asking the other animals to help her out. She’s all up in their face like “Who will help me make this bread?” And nobody wants to help her.

So she goes about all of the labor by her own damn self. I mean, this chicken is straight up planting wheat for this bread. She’s harvesting and milling her own grains and shit. And every step of the way she asks the other animals if they want to help her out, but they don’t. In the end, she makes this delicious bread and all the animals want to eat it, but she’s like “Fuck off, this is my bread, I’m the only one who worked for it.”

I always liked this fable because it shows how something as simple and ordinary as a loaf of bread requires time, patience and hard work to create.  Before you can even make the dough a bunch of things have to happen: wheat has to grow, eggs have to be laid, yeast has to—yeast up or whatever it does. And as a comic book writer, I often feel like that little red hen, running around all like “Who will help me make this comic?”

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