The fact that I’m just starting to write my annual year-end blog post three days into the start of the new year is pretty telling of how 2017 went, and how 2018 seems to be starting: Insanely fast-paced and spiraling out of my control. We can blame it all on Trump, right? No? Damn.

Well, 2017, busy as it may have been, was the first year things were getting back to what passes for “normal” around here. As noted in my 2016 wrap-up, I brought The Utopian Foundation back from suspended animation, even if I’m still playing catch-up to deliver a new strip each week. That was about the only comic I consistently worked on in 2016, though, despite putting Pop! Goes the Icon publishing efforts on hold to free up time to produce more work.

Part of the inability to produce more comics was likely because my day job as Internet Content Czar at a Major Las Vegas Strip Resort became even more demanding than likely any job I’ve had my entire career. Like, seriously. I have never worked on as many projects at once as I have in the last 18 months. It’s like running a marathon, except there’s no finish line.

But, of course, other extracurricular projects also competed for attention, like a new music group I joined with fellow ex-Moonboots … from which I had to step down after writing, rehearsing and recording for about eight months, because of yet one more big distraction: Moving to Huntington Beach. It’s a still head-shaking transition about which I need to write more in the near future.

Speaking of writing, though: Last year, I lamented my lack of progress in the world of filmmaking, partly due to lack of time, but also partly due to my main HD camera getting stolen (or lost–the jury’s still out). Well, one of the side-effects of moving back to Southern California was a reinvigorated interest in filmmaking that may or may not have to do with proximity to Los Angeles. I replaced the camera. Dusted off scripts. Started doing more active watching of films and TV shows. Researching. Reading and watching tutorials. Actually spending time getting to know my new equipment and camera techniques in general.

Honestly, with relative isolation here in generally sunny California, I have fewer distractions in general (no band in which to play, no friends with whom to drink), so I’ve been able to focus (as much as is possible for someone as highly distractible as I am) in what little non-obligated time I have on filmmaking and comics, and that’s about it. There are a few projects I’m working on that straddle both those mediums, screenplays that might turn into graphic novels and vice versa.

Last year, I didn’t write down concrete goals for the year like I usually do. For 2018, though, I think I’m ready for a return to form. If I don’t put these out there, the likelihood of holding myself accountable for attaining them decreases. You have to make lists. You have to visualize the end result. And, most importantly, you have to do the work. So, here we go:

  • Finish and publish another volume of The Utopian. The Utopian Foundation is headed toward the end of a long story arc that is the perfect stopping point for a print collection. I’ll be appearing in Artist Alley at Emerald City Comic Con in March–the only comic convention I have booked for 2018 so far–and I’d really love to have this volume for sale there, even if it doesn’t get released to the mass market until later in the year. Which means I need to buckle down HARD the next two weeks, because my lord is March rapidly approaching.
  • Get a TV series pitch in front of an actual network, production company or agent. I’m reworking a long-gestating pitch that got me audience with an agent several years ago, but the script was weak (it was the first teleplay I’d ever written). Now, it has a pretty solid pilot script, but I’m fleshing out the characters, season arcs, and episode log lines. It’s a good (/bad?) thing I’m not one of those people who has a fear of rejection.
  • Continue to do more traveling, preferably internationally. This year I did a lot of domestic travel: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, San Diego, and then a whole lot of trips back-and-forth from/to L.A. and Las Vegas, both during our transition to HB and for work/personal reasons since. I haven’t been to Canada yet, and there are whispers about the South Pacific, but heck, I wouldn’t mind getting back to Europe for a bit, either. That said, I’ll happily eschew more travel if it means more time for other activities, like…
  • Finish the two damn screenplays I’ve been dragging out for too long. One’s an action-drama that’s ostensibly a super-powered twist on the “putting the band back together” trope; the other is basically “The Devil Wears Prada” with a male lead. Both of them could be finished in a week with no distractions.
  • Get a new computer, specifically a Surface Pro. This is one of those goals that’s really just “find an extra $3,000 I didn’t otherwise spend on travel.” I’ve been working with the same computer (a 2012 MacBook Pro) and drawing tablet (a Wacom Intuos 3 bought in 2008) for many years, and they’ve been serving me well, but to speed up my production capacity–specifically with comics and illustration–a direct-to-screen experience is needed. And since I need more computing horsepower anyway, putting together everything in one unit makes more sense than buying a separate device like a Cintiq and taxing my MBP any further, which has been my all-in-one video editor, recording studio, drafting table, typewriter and library for far too long.
  • Take advantage of Southern California living. Due to my workload, I don’t leave the house as much as I’d like to. However, even when Sara and I aren’t working, we don’t really do much outside of our four walls, despite a) living in a new-to-us area and b) having near-perfect weather year-round, plus a beach that’s less than two miles away. So, in 2018, we need to get our bicycles tuned up, and explore HB the way that locals do. I need to start running again, and not just in my neighborhood, but exploring the trails and paths that run alongside the ocean. I need to make a conscious effort to seek out the community here, instead of just assuming that Orange County is just SoCal’s redheaded stepchild.

So there you have it, 1,000-plus words later: 2017 in the rear view, 2018 laid out ahead. That was the easy part. Now, I have to do the work. And I expect any of you out there reading this to make sure I do just that.

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