I've spent most of January working on things which don't pay any money, but needed doing. It's all felt quite luxurious, frankly. I've not been getting up at silly o'clock every morning, been taking a day off here and there, and just ploughed through a ton of work without needing to show it to anyone. What it's all for i can hopefully reveal later in the year. But it's done me a load of good, mentally. November and December i took on too much, and burnt myself out completely. So I feel refreshed, calm, bit skint, and ready to get back into the schedule.
One thing which has always niggled me though is that no matter how many different comics i work on (and i count myself extraordinarily lucky to, make no mistake), there are always more i want to do. Characters I don't have time to work up. Stories which sit in my brain for years. Sometimes I get the chance to work them up into pitches for TV companies, which sometimes get signed up, and then usually end up buried and locked in copyright, which is no use to anyone. What I want to do is start parading these ideas around myself.
So every month this year, I'm going to try and take a few days out to introduce a new character.
This may take the form of a new mini website, or a comic story, or whatever. Just some way to add flesh to the ideas in my head. One of my personal gripes is that I've never had the concentration to stick to one thing at a time - if I'd spent the last five years drawing Whubble strips constantly maybe I could have made a career out of him, for example, but I'm always too keen to work on the NEXT idea. So, I figure, why not give into it, and put my efforts into creating a long list of characters rather than devoting my life to any one. I've loved doing this so far, with Bear, Chaffy and Bunny vs. Monkey (to name a few) all sitting together on my site. Making a family, a roster, of characters is a buzz for me.
One of the main reasons for doing this, apart from the need to just get them out of my brain, is to claim them as mine. Every artist knows the frustration of seeing a great new idea come out and thinking "ARGH. BALLS. I had that exact same idea and they beat me to it!". Y'know, I'm tired of feeling like that. So by making these characters real, I can at least prove I'm not just saying 'i had that idea too!' in retrospect to any that may come along. I know some artists aren't keen on giving their ideas away online, which is understandable, but personally i think it's a real playground to explore and develop characters, see if there's any positive reaction to them, and even (possibly) grab the attention of a publisher.
So, that's the plan. While I may use some months to explore existing characters (I always fancied drawing a more child-friendly Ubu Bubu, or maybe even making some Find Chaffy comics), for the most part they'll be new characters I'm working on. I'll be keen to see the reaction, and if it's positive, I'll try and carry them on. Also, hopefully, it might make some room in my brain, because at the moment it's a bit full.
The reason I'm writing this into a blog is to force myself to do it. So please, hassle me if you see me slacking off this year.