Thank you Courtney Barnett for providing a title for this blog. I was stuck on it and her music was in my head and then I remembered one of her records is Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. That sums it up nicely. She rocks, I love her very much, give her a listen on Spotify by clicking the photo. Also, music nerds, on her website you can play around mixing the tracks from her newest album. It’s quite fun, though not what I planned to do today:
Forgive me reader, it’s been six months since my last newsletter. There are only so many hours in the week available for this comics project, and those hours have been trimmed quite a bit by life’s many other requirements. When given the choice between doing the project or talking about it, I’ve been choosing the doing. So here’s some of what was done, in my life and in my comics.
My family and I spent 2022 emerging from the haze of pandemic life. It’s been a good year as we’ve embraced the things we couldn’t do in peak Covid. I’m an introvert, but I’ve been trying to default to “yes” when it comes to seeing friends, going to concerts, seeing art, eating out. The good news is we are healthy and happy together and Covid certainly made us stronger as a family.
Work in the emergency department is the hardest it’s ever been. So many good nurses leaving for better gigs. So many patients with social problems who have no place else to go. No floor beds, no pediatric beds, no psych beds, no rehab beds, no place to send patients. Hospitals hemorrhaging cash with nothing to show for it. These problems all flow downhill and lead to crowded ERs, miserable patients and burnt staff. The system is broke and broken and I don’t know how it gets better. I just show up and do what I can. Sometimes it makes me want to build a treehouse in the woods and just sit in it.
My son and I started building a treehouse in the woods. We knew nothing of carpentry, now we know a very little, but it is super satisfying and has been great to do together.
My band played some great gigs after a year of shows largely canceled by Covid.
After closing a successful Kickstarter for By the Time I Get to Dallas #3/Trinity Project #3 at the end of 2021 there was a long printing delay as I waited for paper. Finally the books went out in the spring. I think they look damn good.
After completing book 3, my long-time penciler Juanfran Moyano stepped away from the comics industry. It was hard to see him go, he breathed life into this story starting in 2014. We’ll miss you Juanfran!
The hunt for a new artist was exciting and led me to the wonderful Ben Worrell, our new penciler for Dallas #4 and beyond. We banged out the 34 pages of By the Time I Get to Dallas #4 over the summer! Yup, it’s all drawn!
The rest of the art team stayed on, which means we’ve got inks by Dario Marin complete, and colors by Jay Moyano underway. To prove it, I’m revealing the main cover for Dallas #4 for the first time:
I’ve got a couple stellar variant covers from artists I’ve been dying to work with: Netho Diaz and Erwin Arrozza. I can’t wait to drop those but I need to hold back for now. Soon…
I brought in a new editor, Claire Napier, to help me kick this story up a notch, and man was that a good decision. She’s done a great job honing the writing and shepherding the art. The second half the project will be stronger for it.
The weak link in the comic production chain has been me writing Trinity Project #4. As the Dallas and Trinity stories start to merge in the second half of the arc I’ve got to plan things in a lot more detail and that slows me down, I feel more pressure to get it right. I’ve got the next book broken out by scene, and with a few days of solid writing I’d feel better about committing to the next Kickstarter. The good news is my Trinity art team of Greg Woronchak and Jason Finestone are fast, so I hope once I have enough words written I can get that book moving and catch up with Dallas #4.
So looking back, it clear other initiatives—being a human being in a world that’s opened back up, building a tree house, playing music— cut into the comics writing. And if I’m being honest, all my favorite sports teams—the Bruins, the Jets, Arsenal and the Yankees—had unexpectedly good years, plus there was the World Cup, so I watched more sports than usual. And perhaps I found a city building game on the iPad that takes up a tiny bit of time that could be better spent on other things. And then there is the cocktail making. And the staring blankly at a wall. I do feel guilty that I haven’t done more on the comics this year—haven’t stayed up on my email list and social media, haven’t publicized the book, haven’t done signings, conventions, podcasts, Twitch, TikTok, Twitter (not sorry). There’s an endless list of things you could/should be doing as a DIY comics maker that doesn’t include writing stories and making books. But I try to remember that there is no right timeline, there’s just what is. Producing 55 pages of comics per year as a side hustle is a heavy lift, and it’s okay if some years are slower than others. I still have the passion to make this book real, and I’m dying for the day I have it wrapped up in one fat volume. It’s coming.
How I Will Crush 2023
Let’s be honest, I probably won’t. I dislike New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like being told what to do, even by myself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t refocus for a week or two.
Soon I’ll announce the next Kickstarter, to launch in the first quarter of 2023. That is its own massive undertaking. As always I’ll try and fail to do it efficiently so I can keep my focus on the creative side while still finding new readers and raising the funds for book production.
I’ll table my first comics convention: Wicked Comic Con on April 22-23 in Boston at Hynes Convention Center. This has been a long-time goal of mine, delayed by Covid. Can’t wait!
If all goes well I should have Dallas #4/Trinity #4 in your hands by end of the summer, while cranking up production of #5 with the same awesome creative team. Then #6 is the final book! Then collect it all in hardcover, sell it to a publisher, and start new stories!
New stories?! Yes, I’m nibbling away at a big one, adding notes on my phone when I have odd moments standing in line or intubating someone. Just kidding!
How will I get there? I need to manage time better in 2023. It’s going to mean waking up earlier to write, no way around it. But I turn 50 in three weeks and I can feel that pushing me to get more productive—turning 40 was a big spark for starting this thing in the first place. (Sure, that was ten years ago and it’s still not done but that’s not the point, inner voice! Go back in your hole!) Maybe I should have bought a Porsche back then for a much simpler midlife crisis, but it’s too late for that now. Onwards!
Have a Happy New Year and I promise I’ll notify you of the haps with more alacrity in 2023!
How I’m staying sane today
LETTERKENNY. Friends kept telling me about this Canadian comedy series but I could never remember the random name when skimming Netflix, and it isn’t on Netflix, it’s on Hulu, so it took a long time to start this show. That’s okay, it’s still funny. Basically it’s a live action South Park about Canadian farmers, meth heads and hockey players. I think it takes major cues from Napoleon Dynamite, with subtle notes of Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and SpongeBob Squarepants. Though not graphic, the content (ostrich fucking, meth addiction, prostate milking) is utterly inappropriate for sitting with your 14 year old, but that hasn’t stopped us from watching it as a family. Now we eat all-dressed chips and talk like Canadian semipro hockey players. You’re welcome.
Colin is an emergency physician in Boston, Massachusetts. The seeds of his comics project were sown when he took a sabbatical from the ER for creative writing. His creative non-fiction has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.