I'm a deadline guy. Always have been. Picture if you will a young Rob at the tender age of 9, fretting because a self-imposed deadline for a new comic (drawn on looseleaf paper, folded with two staples) was imminent. I began making these homemade mini-comics in 1991, and there was something about having a tangible manifestation of my pure effort that I loved even then. It's safe to say once the productivity bug bit me, I was hooked. Years later, the same thirst for making kept me pumping out a page a day on CHEW for eight-ish years. My childhood hustle served me well in an industry driven by tight deadlines. Still does.
Cut to 2020. A pandemic. Worldwide panic. Experts predicting millions would die. Kids taken out of school. Every business declared non-essential was shut down. It's the goddamn Zombie Apocalypse. You know you were thinking it.
Not a particularly productive year, is what I'm saying.
In fact, it's safe to say 2020 was the least productive year of my career. My wife (also a business owner) and I did our best to juggle home-schooling our three kids, buying time for the other to work. We hit a pretty nice rhythm, too, at least for the first few months. But just as we'd get comfortable with our arrangement, some new wrinkle would be thrown at us, forcing us to adjust again and again. It was sort of like building a jigsaw puzzle on quicksand. Just as you get a few pieces together, the ground beneath you changes, and you're back where you began.
I spent most of the year just being Dad, I think. Sure, I'd squeeze in commissions, the odd freelance gig and the occasional FARMHAND work, but when I think of last year, it's not the work that comes to mind. It's the family stuff. So in that way, 2020 was an odd mix of anxiety and blessing. Anxiety, for obvious reasons. Blessing, because we were together, healthy, and that's all right.
Which brings me to the new year. Already more productive than the last.
I'm back in the FARMHAND saddle. I'd wrapped issue 15 about a week before the initial lockdown in March, planning to take a slightly extended rest, and COVID extended it even more. As it is now, I'm aiming to get issue 16 out by the fall. I'm planning 15 more issues, and this next arc feels like we're getting close to the end. Bittersweet, but I'm excited.
I've also been doing a good bit of freelance work for DC Comics, which has been an unexpected treat. I admit my (very odd) artwork is not what you'd call "house style" for Big Two work, particularly DC. But it seems the company is in the middle of shaking some things up, and I've seen several of my favorite indie artists getting DC work for the first time. I'm expecting the hardcore superhero fans to hate it, while the more indie-minded fans will eat it up. This is Comics.
I did an 8-page Constantine story with Matthew Rosenberg and colorist Marissa Louise for the War of the Multiverses one-shot. Then I did an 8-page Mister Miracle/Big Barda story with writer Regine Sawyer and colorist Mike Spicer for DC's Love is a Battlefield anthology. Both were my first foray into superhero comics, and ya know what? It was friggin' fun.
My latest offering will be Truth and Justice #4, a 30-page (thirty pages of story!) one-shot focusing on once-dead Robin Jason Todd, now known as Red Hood. It's written by Jeff Trammell (Cartoon Network's Craig of the Creek), pencils and inks by me with colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Middlewest, I Hate Fairlyland). It's a great one-and-done story I think fans of Batman: The Animated Series will dig. I'm really proud of what we came up with. Comes out digitally in March, with a print version in May.
So 2021 is off and running, folks. Got a few new announcements to follow. New shirts coming. And I'll be taking a big commission list for the year. I don't foresee cons in my near future, so everything will be via mail.
Also: I've started a bit of creative consulting/mentoring on the side. Up-and-coming creators have been asking me for more intensive one-on-one guidance for a while now, and I'm slowly warming to the idea. I love sharing what I've learned with hungry young creatives, so it's a no-brainer. Details to follow, as I figure out what it looks like.
See ya soon,