Well, as the final days of 2018 click away, it is time for my annual look back at my 2018 trip around the sun. What a year this has been. For many of us it has been a rough experience and 2019 already looks like it isn’t promising all that much. However, I am getting ahead of myself, so, lets turn back the clock and travel back in time in the retrospective hot tub time machine.
Before I continue, did you know this past year we have all traveled 583 millions miles through space at an average speed of 67,000mph? Meaning even if you didn’t leave home you traveled through the solar system. Pretty mind-blowing, eh?
This year, like all years started with the promise of good things. I was gifted an iPad Pro and finally had access to the mythical procreate app – promising a year of exploring the techniques of digital drawing and a chance for me to swing at a few comic ideas I had – all drawn by me!
Not a bad start to the year with an exciting promise of creative r
Journey Into The Tempest
In January I watched my first play outside of school (which I do realize was a long, long time ago). It was the Tempest by the Baltimore Shakespeare Company and I really enjoyed the play, and the company immensely – vowing to see more live productions throughout the year (little did I know what was coming and the financial slam I was going to experience). I enjoyed myself and the year was opening up into a lot of possibilities.
Outside My Comfortzone
In February I finally got comfortable enough with the Procreate App, and digital drawing to release a new Unconditional Hugs cartoon strip onto Webtoons. The idea being I would release a handful of strips this year and build into a bigger story. Creatively I was feeling great and although the Winter was dragging with rain, rain and more rain. The year was shaping up nicely for me.
The month of February stretched on and I finally released the last part to the Out Of The Attic series featuring the Cuddly Defenders, finishing the arc of stories that started way back in A Teddy Bear Tale. A sense of completion came over me and I could look to the future with an interesting reboot of my teddy bear adventure in mind.
Taking Stock Of My Dream
March was the first real gut punch of the year for me, I was forced into a position to look at my storytelling dreams and make drastic changes. My finances were cut in half, and I had no choice, but to look at my families survival, which sadly meant I had to scale back my dream. It hurt a lot, and I knew it was going to cost me a lot of momentum that I had built up, but the decision was forced upon me and the whole experience shook my confidence to my very core. Maybe, I simply wasn’t that good after all? Certainly, I was mocked for having the dream of writing in a public forum, for daring to have a dream, and that mocking will stay with me for a long time.
A Parenting Nightmare
The hits in March kept coming, but in the worse way. My Daughter got caught up in a school shooting at Great Mills High, a shooting that took the life of a teenage girl and injured a fellow student. The girl was shoot because she broke up with her boyfriend, who shot her for daring to do so… I know, WTF?!? Back in the day, the worse would do is moon around, listen to cure, maybe write some bad poetry and exchange nasty stares. It appears in 2018, you run the danger of getting shot!
My Daughter was literally down the hall from the shooter and I got a terrified phone call around 8am from my baby girl. Powerless to help, all I could do was tell her to lay on the floor and hide behind a table. Her frantic pleas over the phone will never leave me and I know the entire incident still haunts my daughter too. Never think a school shooting won’t happen to your kid, it happened to mine and the problem is only growing. Gun safety is a discussion that is long overdue here in the USA and how much longer will it be before enough is enough? For the sake of our children we have to look at this.
We Became A Military Family
While 2018 had delivered some hard hits, we had a bright spot. My son joined the Coastguard and headed off to basic training. In one fell swoop we became a Military family and entered a world we knew little about. Words cannot describe how proud I am of my boy and watching him leave to become something bigger than him was a life experience. We all had stepped into a much bigger world.
I spent part of the month of April and May reorganizing the resources I had for publishing and repackaged many of my stories to get them up on Amazon. One of the books that got the Amazon treatment was the new Awakenings series I was working on.
About this time direct links to my work on Amazon were placed on the website and I started to break my sprawling website down, so it would be more user-friendly. This was an important step for me to figure out what I wanted to do with the work I was creating. Before this I had ambled about, working on projects at a whim and may have spread myself too thin.
We had a bonus start to June, we traveled up to Cape May to watch my son graduate Boot camp and now was a Coastguard Fireman Apprentice. One of the proudest moments of my life.
Hero Ted Launches
My first full digital comic strip, written and drawn by me launched on Webtoons – Hero Ted was back in a whole new adventure and was my first journey into a complete digital comic. It was a lot of hard work, I learned a lot of things from its creation and told, what I hoped was a good little story.
Finally Figured Out Dee
After exercising my artistic muscle on the digital medium I finally sat down and figured out how to finally drawn Team-D. A small hero team I had been wanting to introduce to the Teddy Bear Tale books, but couldn’t get them to click. Dee had gone from a ditsy, like her namesake from Dexter Laboratory, to a Kim Possible look-a-like, until a moment of inspiration hit me and I de-aged her all the way to an eight year old. I had finally found this elusive characters face and I believe my adventures in digital art had finally brought her out.
Team-D, the awesome adventures of Dee & Duo, and their Little Big Adventure will be coming some time in 2019.
The year started to speed up, Mr Button got reviewed on an Australian Comic Book Podcast, I attempted to run a Kickstarter to make and sell Teddy Bear action figures, which blew up in spectacular fashion when the supplier disappeared off the radar effectively crashing the Kickstarter. Then we hit a huge life roadblock.
Jean fell foul of a really bad infection, so bad it put her into hospital and I thought I was going to lose her. After a couple of rough days, she thankfully recovers and was discharged after 10 days of sitting in the infection ward. Really rough time for us all.
The Power Of Words
I learned the power of words when I was contacted by the mother of a child who died of cancer. I know not the most Hollywood type of story, but she thanked me for the comfort my Teddy Bear stories brought her child. Now at this point I was at a low point, and was struggling to justify continuing my work. I had a rough child support court experience and had everything I created and dreamed about mocked by my ex-wife’s attorney – apparently the attorney doesn’t value creative expression. And I was questioning everything about myself, and brought me to this point. Then II learned of Nathaniel’s story and dedicated the entire childhood cancer month to fundraising, by donating my Teddy Bear Tales book royalties to cancer research for one month. This got picked up by a couple of local papers and we made $50 for children’s cancer research… Maybe next year we can go bigger?
A New Direction
Learning of the power my words had, I got my feet back under myself. I set off on my new direction for A Teddy Bear Tale and launched a new Kickstarter to get the book made, and after a struggle, a relaunch we landed the money need to get the job done. I hope sometime in March 2019 we will have a new Teddy Bear Tale book to add to the growing universe.
I bounced through Inktober 2019, using the digital medium and helped craft my abilities with the Apple Pencil and Procreate, finally pulling myself completely out of the rut the year had landed me in. I had rediscovered the joy I had been missing from my work. It felt good to be back.
Jean once again fell ill, and after a nightmare 18 hours in the Franklin Square ER, she found herself admitted to the hospital, this time it was really serious. They had to drain fluid from her, and the Hospital was clueless on how to treat her. It got so bad I made initial plans for her funeral and two weeks later she was released from the hospital, losing a good 15 pounds. But, the fluid drain actually helped her. This marked the third time in the last two years I thought was going to lose Jean. It really does do a number on you, you should not have a death check list for your loved one. Sadly I have one in my possession.
A couple of months go by and I attempt a new digital comic, this time a sequential story that is told in motion, with no dialog, or sound effects. Just a pure storytelling using my new character Rokkit Bunny, it turned into an interesting art experience and I am quite proud with the way it turned out.
Then another gut punch, we lost Stan Lee on November 12, the comic book titan had died of old age. It was sad news, Stan was one of those people you thought would live forever, (or you hoped he would). His legacy will ensure he will never be forgotten and I hope I can contribute to this with new stories of my own. Thank you Stan, you will forever be the man!
And that was my year around the sun, work is going well, we as a family suffered a couple of bad financial blows, I almost lost my wife twice, had a bad scare where I thought I was going to lose my daughter and creatively I bottomed out and fought through a bought of depression. It was tough to say the least. But, there were highlights.
My son became a Coastguard and is now Fireman (E2), my Daughter has got all woke and is up in State Delegate faces about gun safety, my wife is alive, I grew as an artist and a writer, and through scaling back may have a creative way forward. There are aspects of 2018 that have affected us all and may cast a shadow into 2019, I think you will all agree there is a general unease in the air.
With only four days left of 2018, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing I have survived another trip around the sun. I don’t know what 2019 will bring, odd years historically have never been kind, but we will endure because that is what families do!
Oh, yeah… This happened…
Now let’s see what 2019 brings, it may be a little bumpy, but together we will make it. Onwards!