Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Thanks

And here we are. The holiday that gussies up genocide in exchange for tryptophan. In a country that dresses up autocratic Nazi despotism as politics as usual. 

It's become increasingly difficult to engage with the outside world these past few weeks.  Spending one of them in Portland, Oregon, took a bit of the edge off.  Spending time between here and Los Angeles reminded me that not only was it not a mandate that sealed our fate, but, that there are plenty of people just as angry and scared as I am.

The fear. That's the hardest part. I've made a life of being fearless.  Saying what I think. Doing what I want. Not letting risk outweigh the importance of good and right. And while those characteristics have certainly hurt me (and those I love), I've never once been scared of using them. Of letting my gut tell me when it's time to stand up and when it's time to walk out. 

A few years ago, I was put in one of those situations by DC Comics. And there wasn't a second of hesitation when I walked out the door on a career I'd fought for a decade plus to build, because, I know what's right, and I know what's wrong. 

But it fucking hurt. It hurt financially. It hurt me socially. It hurt me psychologically. While I'll be eternally grateful to Marvel and Axel Alonso for helping me get over the rough spot I was in, it also was a true moment of change for me. I knew the day I said, "no more," I wouldn't last much longer as a comic book writer. 

And so I moved over to television. A dream I'd had, the very reason I'd moved to Los Angeles in 2001, and something that has brought me more success and happiness than virtually any other job I've ever had. And, it's been a place where I can be myself. Where I can have my politics, and my hard headed beliefs in what is right and wrong, and how people should be treated, and what our responsibility is to our audience. 

But now... First, we live in a different world. A world of persecution. Of thought police on a scale never imagined. And secondly, our President-Elect has shown us what he thinks of those who stand against what he stands for.

But as a person who tells stories. Who believes in the inherent kindness of humanity. Of the power of community, and love. Of the weakness and foolishness of hate and authoritarianism, how can we tell stories that do anything but repudiate him and his followers.  

Do we tell stories about the happy Nazi who convinced his whole town to burn a family alive because of the color of their skin? Do well tell a modern twist on 1984 where Winston Groom realizes just how much better he is to have been brainwashed back into the system? Or do we tell the story of Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time, and able to see the error in his ways fighting a monster with funny hair? Or, perhaps, we can do a remake of The Stand where Randall Flagg has some really interesting ideas about economics to share with our heroes. 

No. We tell stories about the other. The unique. The brave. The bold. Those who preach kindness over hate, and see violence as a last defense, not as an opening salvo. For people who understand what a centuries worth of enlightened thinkers have preached. That we are one species. One family. Struggling together for a better world. Not hurling bullets or insults, not slowly destroying each other for the sake of protecting ones own.

I am scared. And I say that knowing full well that the color of my skin will camouflage my religion and my immigrant parents. I lay in bed worried that when they come for us, the voters who chose this modern day Satan will not chant for my destruction, but simply shrug and say, "But, at least now the trains run on time." 

I'm scared, I realize, for one reason. What I did all those years ago when I walked away from my career was fucking hard. Harder than anything I'd ever done before. Harder, I thought, than anything I'd ever have to do again. And yet, here we are. 

And if I'm worried about what I would do, how could I not be completely terrified what everyone else will do? 

Apartheid

I've been chewing over a conversation I had with my Dad the day after the election.  

My parents fled Apartheid-era South Africa. They moved here in the late 70's, just in time for me to be born. They brought their two kids away, to find a better life that wasn't living in a terrifying, backwards police state. They came to America for opportunities for their children. For opportunities for themselves. And, in some part, to rid themselves of the disgusting culture of Apartheid. 

So, when I talked to my dad about the implications of the election, that the racist and xenophobic rhetoric was just that, rhetoric. That only a small part of the population believed those disgusting lies, and the rest are just going along. That human beings inherently know right from wrong.

And my father, a Forensic Psychiatrist with more time spent with the inner working of human beings minds than almost any living person on earth said the most haunting words I've ever heard.

"No. They don't." He went on to talk about South Africa and how the vast majority of the population didn't just let what was happening go, they actively encouraged it. They believed that the Africans were subhumans and that if they weren't controlled rigidly, they'd bring absolute chaos. 

It wasn't just a small pocket. It was what was taught in schools. It was what was considered the 'average' opinion. 

And now, with a white supremacist and his cronies in the White House, the news media saying, "Everything is fine," and life forcefully beginning again from this wreckage, I just ask you to consider is that the world you want to live in? A world where Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ, Jews, women, and any people other than white, male Christians are less than. Deserving of punishment, ridicule, and, eventually, annihilation.

That's the President we've elected. This is the world we live in. 

It's up to us to change it. 

An apology.

To my little girl, on this week of turmoil, and heartbreak, and fear.

I never thought I'd be this scared. It feels remarkably un-dad-like to me. I've laid in bed for nearly a week, sleepless, anxious, betrayed. And it is very root is my love of you. My hope for your future. Not just as an engineer or a doctor or an artist or whatever you damn well want to be, but, in a world that would accept you for what you can do, and who you are, not for what you look like.

I thought while we lived in a world with dark, sad things, that for the most part, the good guys find a way to win. And now, I have to constantly remind myself that must still somehow be true. 

When I look at you and I see the beauty of your soul beaming out of those gorgeous brown eyes, my heart breaks. I force back the tears, for what's going to come over the next few years. The irreparable damage that this country has done to itself, and i pray it's not a mortal wound, while being pretty damn sure it is. 

I look at you and every time I ask you the same question. "What's the most important thing in the world?" And you think, and you smile and you say, "Being kind." Then you smile broader and you say, "And you and mommy." 

The truth is that a lot of people don't think that way. The truth is that people pushed aside cruelty in their candidate to instead look out for themselves and their interests. For fear for of losing their pot, they pissed in everyone else's. For the sake of a few pieces of silver, they betrayed the very foundations of society. Respect, love, and compassion.

I'm sorry that I didn't do more. I'm sorry that I feel powerless to change this. I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made, and the mistakes that the people around me have made.  I'm sorry for the fragility of humanity itself. That so easily can villainy push out heroism. I'm sorry for the stories I've told that didn't face this dead on. I'm sorry that I couldn't convince more people that there is a better way. 

I'm sorry for the world that you'll inherit. 

I'm not sorry for making you the kindest person I've ever met. It'll be hard to understand the world that you're going into, but, I have the utmost faith in your ability to make it a better place.

I wish I could say the same for everyone else. 

Magic

I took my daughter to our local magic store today. It was... I suppose necessary isn't the word, but, we really needed it. 

Magic is important for the two of us for a few reasons.  First, it's a little language we can share. Something (like Pokemon and Yo-Kai Watch) that's really just for us to talk about and cherish. Our own special thing, that I hope one day she shares with her kids, and so on. 

The bigger reasons, though, and certainly the reasons for today's trip, is to teach my little girl three important lessons.  One, there is always joy and wonder to be found in the world.  Even with a few simple tools... some pieces of paper, foam balls, and metal cups can add up to a feeling of joy and exhilaration like almost nothing in the world. 

Two, most times that joy and wonder is a trick. But that doesn't make it a bad thing. We get tricked and fooled every day. But, in magic and in the real world, those tricks fall into a few basic categories, and once you can recognize them, you see them everywhere.  The inner workings of humanity itself can be observed. Identified. Learned. Adapted. Manipulated.

Three, responsibility with what you've learned.  She learns the tricks, performs the tricks, and, most importantly, learns how to use them to give others that feeling of joy and delight. And with that, the realization that part of what makes the trick magic is not sharing that with your audience.  Leave them amazed, because what's going on back stage... is usually pretty pedestrian.

So, I took her there today to show her that while the world is in a state of chaos and unrest, there is still beauty. But, there are also still tricks. Now she just has to learn the difference.

 

Facing the Darkness Ahead

The past forty eight hours have been immensely difficult to understand.

Sitting there watching the returns, fresh out of surgery, and hopped up on surgical grade anesthetic, my wife, daughter, and our friends in the next room, I knew it was just a matter of time before they won.

When I say them, I don't mean Republicans. I mean cowards. The people who live in fear of progress. Fear of the boogeymen who would steal their jobs and make them obsolete. Fear of the 'other' stealing their 'things,' be they cultural, financial, spiritual, or otherwise. 

This fear has permeated our country to a point that an ideologue who's entire gimmick is to talk to these baseless, unfounded fears, was an inevitable winner of the election. No amount of phone calls or memes or rape proclamation/accusations would change that. 

So, after a sleepless night on Tuesday into Wednesday, my wife and I sat on my daughters bed to gently wake her up and to tell her that the good guys lost, and the cowards won.  Tuesday afternoon we'd had her parent teacher conference, and the word her teacher used to describe her most succinctly was empathetic. And, so, we talked to her about empathy.

We told her that when people are scared or fearful, they become selfish. And that this week, selfishness won the day, but, that empathy will always win the war. Understanding people, sympathizing with them, and never losing your care and love for them is the only way to win. And so, in the face of all of this fear and hate, be loving, be kind, and be sympathetic.

That's what we told our six year old.

But here's the truth.

We are entering a period of darkness. Our country teeters on the edge of being a police state. Where anyone different, be it of color, sex,vreligion, or by politics is a threat to the tiny, bigoted coward that somehow just got put in charge. 

And we can only do one thing to combat that darkness.  Burn bright. Burn as bright as we can for the immigrants, the muslims, and the LGBTQ people in our lives. If not because it's the right thing to do, then because I assure you, you will be next. The anti-semitism that runs through his rhetoric, the anti-media bias, the thin skinned threats of censorship of any thing he disagrees with, those are no longer just empty threats.  They are our reality.

There will come a day when they will come for me. Just like there will likely be a day that they come for you. We stand on the edge of a full blown return of fascism the likes of which we could never imagine facing again.

I feel impotent. Completely devoid of power to do anything. And that's what I hear from all of the like-minded people in my life. 

But, that's just not true. We can do something. We can fight. We can shout. We can protest. We can continue to tell stories that talk to the truth of the human condition. We can be the resistance, fighting against an obvious and looking threat. We may not be able to stop it before it starts, but we can fight for what is right, and at least show the world that this man and his cronies do not represent us or are belief structures. 

We are not that far removed from the Holocaust. Even less from HUAC. Barely out of the atrocities of the Civil Rights Era. And here we are again.

So, yes. Be scared of the darkness. But, don't be like them. Be bold. Be brave. Burn bright. Be the light in the darkness. Do it for your kids. Do it for the future. Do it for America. 

 

 

 

San Diego, Steinberg, and Syfy!

It's that time of year again.

San Diego Comic Con is this week.
It's time for all of the office dwelling comickers and tv makers to come out of their hidey-holes and see the world a new.  I am not immune to said situation.  But! This is a SPECIAL SDCC for a few reasons.  First off, the long gestating Tony Fleecs/Josh Fialkov jam JEFF STEINBERG: CHAMPION OF EARTH is premiering at the show from Oni Press in a handsome SDCC Exclusive Edition of #1 with cover art by series artist and co-writer/co-creator Tony Fleecs! See it right below this? It's keen!

 

There's two regular covers, which will be in stores in just a few weeks, one by Tony, and the other by supposed 'famous comic artist' Chris Burnham.  Frankly, I've never heard of him, but he drew some book about a Man Bat or something.  

We're also going to be doing a release party for said book in a few weeks atCollector's Paradise in Winnetka, CA.  Clickey for more info!

Also, in the coming weeks, Oni is releasing THE LIFE AFTER v3, collecting the first arc of EXODUS, the next issue of Exodus, and the penultimate issue of THE BUNKER.  So, go to your store. Get ordering. Stop being a jerk.

MEANWHILE -- For those coming to the show, I've got a limited schedule, thanks to my responsibilities on upcoming Syfy Channel show INCORPORATED, which, by the way, is premiering it's pilot at SDCC!  I'll be there while our fearless leaders show off what we've been working so hard on the past five months.

SO -- Here's where/when you can find me, and I really hope you do.

FRIDAY

  • 11:00 am - ASPEN COMICS PANEL - Talking about our current ASPEN: REVELATIONS EVENT that I'm currently writing with JT Krul and art by Jordan Gunderson and Peter Steigerwald.  Come learn secrets and cool stuff.  Jerks.
  • 12:00pm - ONI PRESS SIGNING - With Tony Fleecs! All your Exclusive Jeff Steinbergs will be signed.  Also, other stuff. 
  • 8:00pm - TOP TEN TIPS TO UP YOUR COMICS WRITING GAME - Room 30CDE - WHere I'll join Andy Schmidt and John Barber, the two schmucks who first hired me at the Big Two to talk about breaking in and making it big, or totally screwing it up like I did. 


SATURDAY

  • 10:00am - IDW PUBLISHING SIGNING - SIgning GODZILLA COMICS like a total boss!  Come get some.
  • 3:00pm - ASPEN COMICS SIGNING - Signing with my Aspen pals.  Come get your Revelations. 
  • 7:00pm SYFY'S INCORPORATED - Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront - This is the TV show I'm working on.  Come get a sneak peak at the kickass pilot and see my bosses say words.  Glorious, glorious words. 


SUNDAY

  • 1:30pm - ONI PRESS SIGNING - With Tony Fleecs.  My final signing before I get in a car and drive back to Los Angeles.  Come. Get. Some.


And that's it for SDCC.  I'll try and get another one of these out about upcoming releases (and release parties) for TUMOR, and the final volume of THE BUNKER coming sometime soon.  

See you in San Diego, 

j.

Famous Last Words...

So. I post about how great I feel, and, y'know, here we are. 

The procedure for my back has continued to be a success.  I'm in virtually no pain... Well, on my back.

Following the procedure, and a far too quick return to public life (including a wonderful weekend at Wondercon), I developed an infection.  Thankfully, it wasn't at the site of the procedure, but, due to my diabetes slingshotting all over the place from the procedure. I got the worst case respiratory infection I've ever had.  It eventually became bronchitis, and then the infection spread, leaving me with an incredibly awful eye infection, and an even worse ear infection.  

I've been put on bed rest, massive doses of antibiotics, and a strict order to stay indoors and out of crowds for the foreseeable future.  There may be some delays on my books, although I think everything is far enough ahead that it shouldn't matter.  

Having horrific amounts of cough syrup and an unstoppable amount of pain pulsing through my head has given me time to reflect on a lot of things.  There's a lot of change coming up for me, and a lot of it has to do with the idea of making my life filled with the kind of joy and happiness I've found the past year or two of my life.  Removing toxicity, embracing the love and joy, and chasing my dreams as hard as humanly possible.  

Huge thanks to all my family, friends, and collaborators who've reached out, and to all of you who most likely will, it means the world to me. 

On Pain

In about October of last year, I slipped on the marble floor outside my gym.  I fell, like a cartoon character, and landed right on a heavy glass water bottle I was carrying on my backpack.  It shattered from the force of the fall, right into my lower back.  I shook it off, thinking the past few years of training has really toughened me up.  I actually told one of the guys, "If this was a few years ago, that fall would've crippled me for life." 

Hubris, thy name is Fialkov.  After that, I was hiking in the mountains on the edge of Burbank.  It had rained, and I was moving as fast as I ever had. Which is why I missed a foothold, and felt a painful, ear splitting POP.  That pop, it would turn out, was my L3-L4 disc, already hurt from the fall,  now bulging 10-13mm.  My L2-L3 was also injured, as was my L5-S1.  That's virtually all of my lower back.

Over the next week, I felt stabbing pain in my right leg, and tingling on the left.  Eventually it got so bad, my co-workers insisted I go see a doctor.  That doctor immediately sent me for an MRI, which showed the injury.  We began a long arduous process of steroid shots, stretching, and pain medicine.  

And for the following five months, I spent almost every minute in agony.  I, somewhat fool-heartedly, decided that I was going to run the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge at Disneyland, plus a 5K warm up around the Universal Studios Backlot (where I was working.) I did the 5k, no problem.  In fact, the pain was almost gone.  So I did the 10k... It was painful, but I did it.  Then I did the Half Marathon and... nothing happened.  I was fine.  I could walk no problem.  

Until I started having tingling all the way up and down my left leg.  A nerve conduction study showed that the injury was in fact causing the nerve damage to spread all the way up to my L1-L2.  Panic started to set in.  I saw a half dozen doctors while writing my first episode of network TV (making my dream come true, a nightmare).  

Each doctor had a different prognosis.  I called my brother (a surgeon) and he asked his spinal surgeon friends for THEIR opinions.  The spinal surgeon I was referred to had his own bleak prognosis.  Finally, after months of limited sleep, painkiller dazed days, and constant, crippling pain, I found two doctors who agreed.  My pain doctor was pushing a procedure called a Pulsing Ablation, and my second opinion surgeon agreed.  

Last week, I took the afternoon off work to have the procedure done.  Essentially, they insert a needle into the nerve stems of each effected nerve and they blast it with electricity, killing the nerve.  It was painful and brutal (especially when I woke up in the middle of the procedure), and I was sent home thinking it wasn't going to work.  I'd been told multiple times that the pain I felt was just going to be how I spent the rest of my life.

The next morning I woke up, and... the pain was gone.  For the first time in six long months, the thing that's been a yoke around my neck, pulling me down in literally every part of my life, had disappeared. There's still odd sensations, and I can still feel the injury, but, the pain was gone.

I've written a lot about my battles with Chronic Migraines, and how it's haunted so much of my work,  life, and the life of my family.  But, having spent six months in literal agony,gave me a very real perspective on what so many of us deal with in our lives.  I have so many friends with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases who get treated as though they're just over reacting and imagining it.  

I can tell you, despite having a 3-D picture of my injury, the cause of my suffering, I still had the very same feelings and worries.  I battled with myself over the severity of the injury, especially as doctors told me it 'shouldn't be that severe' or 'you'll get used to it.'  The fact is that pain is the most personal thing I person can feel.  From broken hearts to broken bones, it's a part of you, and speaks to what some would call your soul. 

Pain is who we are.  It's what gives an identity, and allows us to identify.  Show me a compelling story that isn't about pain.  Show me an interesting human being who hasn't felt pain.  Show me any human being, from a newborn to a 120 year old woman and we can find their pain.  The real test of strength is how you triumph over it.

I was lucky.  My battle is a easily diagnosable, and, theoretically, treatable one.  But for all of the people who's pain is more complicated, less detectable, and every bit as real, show compassion. Show love.  Because it really is the only thing that can beat pain.

That, and an electrically charged needle that kills your nerves, apparently. 

 

Women

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the women in my life who have effected me and altered me irrevocably as I've had the pleasure of knowing them.

My mom was a musical prodigy.  She was a Cello virtuoso, a pianist, and, a profoundly gifted Opera Singer.  She also was offered a life choice at a young age that I've never quite understood. She was offered a full ride to the King's College in London to study opera.  At the same time, she met a schnook-y medical student that lit her heart on fire.  She chose my dad.  

For years I never understood why.  I mean, my dad is terrific, but, those were her hopes and dreams.  My entire life I've never quite been able to parse out why she did what she did, or, more importantly, how she did it.  She devoted her life to him and to their children.  She put our happiness ahead of her own for nearly fifty years.  

And then, this morning, she casually slips in to conversation that after those same fifty years, she's going to try out for a part in a local play.  Despite deferring her dreams and pleasure for the sake of her children, she never really forgot it.  She never really forgot the pleasure and joy that drove her early life.  It takes bravery, it takes heart.  She has both.

My sister had a grapefruit sized cyst on her ovary when she was a teenager.  That was just the beginning of a life of illness that includes Epstein-Barre, Lupus, chronic migraines, and more.  Through it all, she's remained one of the most generous, loving people on earth.  She's got more friends than I'd ever hope to have, and, in spite of her health problems, she's managed to build a legacy of the most important kind.  One of love.  Her community of friends is so much better for having her in it.  And now, after struggling all of those years to figure out what to do with her life in the face of these great obstacles, it seems she's found her calling.  She's taking the years of experience not just in art, but in humanity, to teach art to those who desperately need it in their life.  She's found a way to professionally bring joy to those around her, and to show them the joy that's already inside them.  

And then, there's my wife.  Christina is the very definition of a self-made woman.  She pulled herself out of the life that was laid out for her, and fought against every negative impulse that plague every person.  She's built an empire based on something very simple.  The love of history.  The power of our collective memory.  To see her receiving her recognition, where every person in the room clearly sees not just the brilliance, but the beauty, and the strength of her commitment to our city is positively breathtaking.  That she does it while also writing non-fiction, churning out comic books, editing photo books, mounting exhibits,  hosting important programs all over town, and, yes, being the best damn mother on earth, is, if nothing, proof of why I'll love her for the rest of my life, and why everyone who meets her feels the same. 

And finally, my kid.  In the five years I've spent with her, every day I'm constantly amazed at how... perfect she is.  How thoughtful and compassionate and brave.  How, when a kid is bullied in her class, she gets in-between them, and resolves the problem.  How she understands that some fights are worth having and some are worth walking away from.  How she brings joy and lightness to everyone who meets her.  How she's going to do more than I could ever imagine doing myself.  How she is just a better person than you, or me, or just about anyone I've ever met.

San Diego Comic Con

Hey gang - 
A bit last minute, but, I will be at San Diego Comic-Con this coming weekend.  I have only one signing and one panel, and the rest of them I'll be hanging out with my wife and kid.  That's right, going against over 13 years of habit, I'm going to try and enjoy a comic book convention!

Which, in case you're wondering, is a by product of my new gig, writing for the upcoming, sure to be a hit (right?) NBC series CHICAGO MED.  I'm limited about how much I can say, other than I'm thrilled to be working on it, and I'm sure I'll be tweeting more as we get closer to air.  Also, it's responsible for possibly the happiest picture ever taken of me. See?
 

With that, THE BUNKER and THE LIFE AFTER will BOTH be continuing from Oni Press for the foreseeable future.  PUNKS over at Image just released the very exclusive CBLDF Fundraiser issue which is going to wrap up this volume for the next little bit.  And, recently announced mini-series KING with Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo is going to begin in August from Jet City Comics.  Plus, there's that little Robot vs. Monster book I'm doing for Legendary...  PACIFIC RIM, I think it's called? That's coming for you in September, I believe.  

Meanwhile! Limited appearances, so, if you're in San Diego this weekend, then PLEASE, come see me at the Oni Press booth from 12:30 till 1:30 (or whenever the line disappears).  Bonus, I'll be signing there with THE LIFE AFTER's GABO!  

There's a good chance you'll see me there throughout the weekend as well.  They like to keep me warm and cosy.  

I'm also swinging by my pals at ComiXology's panel from 3 till 4pm in room 29AB to talk about THE BUNKER, KING, and indie comics publishing. 

Be sure while you're there to check out Gabo (TLA)Bernard (KING) Chang , and Kody (PUNKS) Chamberlain's schedules at their respective twitter sites. 


Thanks for reading, and see you in San Diego!

Therapy from a(n almost) Five Year Old

HER: Daddy what's wrong?

ME: I had a tough day.

HER: Oh no.  What happened?

ME: Just a bunch of stuff...

HER: Oh. I'm sorry.  Maybe I can help.  What happened?

ME: Well, I cut my finger really badly.

HER: Did you clean it and put a band aid on it?

ME (wiggling bandaged thumb): Yep.

HER: Okay. So that's better.  And you just need to wait a few days and it'll be healed. Oh! And! You need to be more careful with sharp things, okay? 

ME: Okay.

HER: What else?

ME: I lost my glasses at Costco.

HER: Oh no.  

ME: Yeah.

HER: But you're wearing your glasses.

ME: I found them.

HER: Hooray!

ME: I guess.

HER: You found them. So that's not a problem. What else?

ME: I have a lot of stressful stuff at work-

HER: Oh no.  Are you doing everything you can?

ME: Yeah.

HER: And is there anything ELSE you could do?

ME: Not really, no.

HER: So, then, that's okay, too!  

ME: ...

HER: Can I give you a kiss? Would that fix everything else?

ME: I think so, yeah.

The Struggle

Christ, it's been a shitty month. 

Personally, professionally, and everything in between.  I think the tendency for creative types is to lean towards negativism and fatalism.  And, after this past month, I found myself doing the same thing.  I mean, I already have a helluva tendency towards negativity anyways, but, this has been an Atlas-esque month.

A lot of it stuff I probably won't ever really talk about in public because, frankly, it's just the struggles.  It never gets easier, not really.  We fight because if we don't we drown.  And the temptation to drown is always sitting right there promising at least a life of less stress. 

I found a lot of solace the past few months in the diet and health turnaround we've been having.  It has a pretty pure concept behind it.  We put a ton of nasty shit into our bodies.  Our bodies will eventually fail even if taken great care of, so, shoveling in toxins and fats and grease and things made in a laboratory is just going to gum up the works even more.  

It's not that part of it though.  It's the first part.  Your body will break.  You are built for a purpose, but, even within a completely 'perfect' use of said body, it sometimes will still fall short.  And considering that, why wouldn't you do everything you can to prevent that? Why wouldn't you give it the best version of everything you can handle and strive towards perfection, knowing that you will undoubtedly fall short because everyone does.  Nobody is perfect.  Possibly my wife, but, other than her, nobody.  

Your career is exactly the same.  No matter how hard you work, or aggressive you are to get where you want to be, there's somethings you just can't control.  I found myself coming in second on a bunch of opportunities this month. An eerie number of times, actually.  In a bunch of different ways.  

And it's maddening. Truly. Heart breaking, even.  But then... I reframe it. I put it back into context. Last year? I didn't even place.  Tons of immensely talented people around me didn't even get to show up for the race.  And, I had some amazing people cheering me on.  

That is the fuel.  That is the thing that adds to your drive and counteracts all of the misses and failures and shortcomings. 

This month was incredibly difficult.  But it was also inspiring because I got to see how many people have my back and want me to succeed.  Find those people in your life, cherish them, thank them, and always, always remember them. 

Seth Kushner

Every day, it seems, there's another story of people in dire need of funds to help them through a tough time. Whether it's a change in career, to an illness, to a loss, these things are more and more common place.  

I'd like to take a moment of your time to tell you about something that isn't common place.  Seth Kushner is a father, husband, creator, photographer, and, genuinely kind human being.  And for the past year or two has been dealing with something beyond your worst imagination.  He was diagnosed with aggressive Leukemia, put through a round of treatment that nearly killed him, and came out of it alive because he refused to give up. Because his family refused to give up. Because his friends refused to give up. 

Seth's photographs are what I always think about when I think about him.  His lens sees inside of people in a way that very few photographers do.  When he combines that with comics into some of the brilliant fumetti work that he's done, you have something extremely rare.  Photo comics that work. That are emotionally involving. That are human. 

That's who Seth is.  He's too good a person, and his family too kind to suffer through what they have, let alone to do it with so much dignity and strength and, yes, compassion. So, I'm asking you to do me a favor.  Please go visit Seth's gofundme page and give a little bit of the extra you were going to spend on comics or records or Lego or convention exclusives.  Give a bit to someone who has given us all so much of himself, both in his art, and in his journey through one of the hardest things imaginable.

Go Fund Seth Kushner

The DC Farewells

As DC leaves it's long native home of New York City, everyone is going through their tearful goodbyes.  I figured, I might as well add one.

I love DC Comics. I learned to read by reading them, I learned what was cool by seeing what I wasn't allowed to read, and, I launched the real second part of my career there. Getting to work on those characters is an honor.  I got to follow in the footsteps of all the terrific people who came before, the brilliant writers and artists who made characters into icons, and, more importantly, icons into characters.

A lot of talk has been made about how moving to Burbank is a fresh start for DC, and, I really hope it is.  The characters they control are the most important piece of mainstream comics. Marvel has made up ground, but, other than Spider-Man, the Hulk, and maybe the X-Men, there was little to know widespread knowledge of those characters prior to the launch of Iron Man.  Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Green Arrow, plus the Joker, Lex Luthor, The Penguin, Catwoman, Braniac, oh and don't forget, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, Alfred Pennyworth, and on and on.  Those characters are known by my mom, who for the record thought I was writing "Mickey Mouse stories" for the first half decade of my career.  

The people in charge of DC hold the reigns to the most powerful gateway drug on earth.  My four year old knew Superman and Wonder Woman and Batman by the time she could talk, and not just because I work in comics.  Her friends at school love the characters.  An entire generation of kids are literally ripe for the picking to bring them into comics.  

If the New 52 launch taught us anything it's that people want to read comics.  It also taught us that if the content isn't there to back up the medium, it doesn't matter how cool people think folded paper with staples in the middle are. 

I want DC Comics to do great things, and maybe, this time, they will. 

 

To the writers...

I've got some bad news, writers.  In comics, the artist works harder than we do.  On a simple one to one basis, they just plain work harder.  A writer can easily write a script a week (or at least, should be able to.) An artist has to spend an entire month on the art.  That's a 1:4 ratio.  That means that when there's money to be had, the artist deserves to be paid first.  You, as a writer, can take other jobs.  You can have a day job and still do your job.  An artist, delivering on a monthly book, 99.9% of the time, can't.  It might be 'your idea' and you might have spent 'months researching it' but, this is a collaborative art.  It's a partnership.  You and your artist are married, but, as unequal partners.  You can sleep around with other artists, they're stuck only with you.  

And. They. Should. Be. Paid. For. That. Loyalty.

I've heard a few stories from a few friends who are in situations where there's an advance or a page rate and the writer takes 50% leaving the artist with their 'fair' share, which is not enough money to actually live on AND execute the project.  I was shocked BOTH times, but I suppose I shouldn't be.  

Everyone THINKS they work hard.  Hell, I think I work hard. I'm writing 5 creator owned series, a work for hire comic series, plus working on a tv show and a cartoon series.  And y'know what? I still have more free time than any of my collaborators.  

Should everyone profit from the collaboration, absolutely, but, advances and page rates those are not profits. Those are costs.  Those are the hard costs of the sacrifice your partners are making in order to complete the project.  Do I wish I could get paid up front for my creator owned work? Absolutely.  But you know what I prefer?  My partners making a living wage that allows them to actually MAKE THE BOOKS. 

Caveat, obviously, every situation is different, and in full disclosure, on one of my books, there is no page rate, and the profits are minimal, and the artist and I split that money 50/50, but it's by agreement, not by greed.  Y'see, we've always treated each other fairly, so when we saw what the financial outlook of the book is we had a conversation about it.  I didn't just decide to take that money.  

Long story short. Don't be an asshole. Appreciate that your partners are undoubtedly working as hard, more likely, harder than you are, and give them the support and love they deserve. 

ADDENDUM: The same goes for colorists, inkers, letterers, and, yes, even editors. We are slugs compared to the lives of almost all of our collaborators. Except for publishers.  They're lazy fat cats. Maybe not all of them. 

Wondercon!

I'm going to be swinging by Wondercon in Anaheim this weekend for a single panel, hosted by ComiXology.  It's going to be about their submit platform, self-publishing, and all of that good stuff.  It's at 2pm on Friday in Room 209.   You may also catch me tomorrow at Gabo's table (Small Press SP-90) immediately after that panel. 

And, in case you missed it last week... 

LEGENDARY ANNOUNCES PACIFIC RIM COMICS written by me, drawn by Marcos Marz, and I, Vampire's Marcelo Maiolo!

and

ONI PRESS ANNOUNCES ELK'S RUN 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION hardcover collecting the original Harvey Award Nominated series.  

And as always, don't forget to pre-order your LIFE AFTER's, BUNKERS, and PUNKS comics!

See you in Anaheim tomorrow!

j.