2021: A Year of Embracing My Strengths and Opportunities
Learning more about myself as a writer, editor, and workaholic.
When entering into a new year, I’ve learned that, rather than setting short-term goals that I immediately fail (such as swearing off chocolate), I like to set up long-term goals that I consider successful if I at least put in the effort to try and make progress on them. In past years, I’ve had a habit of spreading myself thin by doing too many things. And while I’m still guilty of this and need to go into 2022 learning to say “no” to more projects as well as avoid overworking myself and burning out, I can say that I’ve succeeded in dedicating the bulk of my work to writing and editing jobs rather than focusing on skills that, while I possess, don’t make me as happy.
As a result of focusing on my writing and editing, I’ve earned a variety of opportunities over the course of 2021 (as well as some opportunities that stem back to 2020) that have led to projects that I’m very honored to be a part of. I broke down some of the highlights from this year below followed by my plans and goals for 2022.
Road Trip to Hell
If you’ve been reading my newsletter at all before this, then I’m probably a broken record at this point when it comes to talking about my creator-owned comic book Road Trip to Hell. I launched my Kickstarter for the final issue of the first arc this year and was thrilled by the fact that I raised $4,100 thanks to the support of 217 backers, making it my biggest Kickstarter yet. We even managed to unlock some adorable stickers, which I’ve been wanting to make from Zoe Stanley’s adorable chibi Road Trip to Hell designs for a couple of years now.
As usual, I had to force myself out of my quiet shell and commit the horrifying act of promoting myself on various podcasts/Youtube channels. This was admittedly a lot of fun when anxiety wasn’t eating away at my insides when I did live stream interviews on the Catch Da Craze podcast and the Explain Yourself Kickstarter Roundtable as well as a text interview on Comic Book Yeti.
Kunoichi: Kate Bryant
This year, I penned the four-issue mini-series Kunoichi: Kate Bryant. Starring a ninja woman seeking to get revenge on the people responsible for her father’s death, this is a spin-off story based on characters created by Kevin Given through KRG Publishing. I liken it to John Wick in Japan. The first issue is available for free digitally on IndyPlanet or for $4.99 if you want a physical version.
And secret fun fact, I actually wrote a couple of issues for another independent series, which has not been announced yet, but you’ll likely see those issues penned by me starting in 2022.
Comic Book Resources
I stopped writing for Comic Book Resources over the course of 2021. While it could be pretty fun to compile related to pop culture and an opportunity to write about anime, the process of writing these lists was very time-consuming. Given how heavy my workload has become, it made the most sense to stop writing for CBR back in March 2021. However, before I left I did post six pop culture lists, which I can tease for you below!
Everything comes full circle! I used to write pop culture lists for Screen Rant back in 2016 until 2017. I returned at the beginning of 2021 to start writing comic book news for them. Pitching, researching, and writing up the articles has been a fun process that has kept my eye on the pulse of the comic book industry more than I would be otherwise. Over the course of 2021, I wrote 126 articles for them. I’ve listed a handful of my favorites from the year below:
My freelance editing career at the webcomic site Tapas Media began in September 2020 but none of the series I was editing premiered until 2021. That year marked the release of five webcomics that I work on as an editor. While I didn’t always start off as an editor on these series with their first episode, I was deeply embedded in the uploading process.
There are nuances between comic books and webcomics that I’ve had to learn to navigate to become an effective editor in both formats. Tapas is my first webcomic editing experience and it’s been an amazing one that I hope to continue for many years to come.
I started off 2021 by joining Scout Comics as a freelance editor and soon became their Director of Digital, helping get their titles on digital platforms like comiXology, Hoopla, and Comic Plus (a fulfilling and weirdly relaxing process). While I still have plenty of announcements that I need to keep hush-hush, a few of the books I’ve been editing have already been released or announced via solicitations. Highlights include:
Impossible Jones: From all-star creative team Karl Kesel (Harley Quinn) and David Hahn (Batman '66), Impossible Jones is a thief turned superhero who isn’t looking to trade in her past as a thief anytime soon.
By the Horns: From the Voracious creative team of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr, By the Horns is a critically-acclaimed fantasy series following Elodie, whose mission is to kill all the unicorns but finds herself having to work alongside them to save the day.
White Ash Season 2: The second season of Charlie Stickney and Conor Hughes’ fantasy series takes a look back at the history of White Ash, a small mining town with plenty of secrets. Featuring dwarves, elves, romantic rendezvous, and more.
My first light novel editing experience, I began at J-Novel in February 2021. This company allows me to bridge the gap between my love of manga and anime with editing. It was a real treat to be able to watch works they’ve had a hand in translating the original light novels of (Outbreak Company, Ascendance of a Bookworm, etc.). I’m currently editing the Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower book series, which is a China-inspired fantasy with food and beautiful men. What more could you ask for?
Ori Academic Press and Clio’s Psyche
One section of my jobs that I don’t mention often as it can be very far removed from pop culture is my editing for scholarly journals. I’ve continued to work on the scholarly journal Clio’s Psyche, which currently releases three volumes a year (and anyone interested can check out their back issues). I also assisted with the editing of The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory, helmed by Clio’s very dedicated editor-in-chief Dr. Paul Elovitz. Another new job I picked up in November 2021 is with ORI Academic Press and MindMend Publishing, looking over scholarly materials. I’ve enjoyed these opportunities to work with scholarship to help sharpen my mind and get some use out of my Psychology minor.
Miscellaneous Independent Projects
I worked with a variety of independent publishers and creators this year. While I can’t announce everything I worked on, I wanted to highlight some of the comics I edited that had Kickstarters over the course of 2021. A more complete list of the independent comics I’ve edited can be found on my website.
Band of Warriors #2: A combination of Celtic and Greek mythology.
House of Fear: Rubber & Glue: I edited the main “Rubber & Glue” story of this issue about the dangers of name-calling, presented as a sort of Goosebumps meets Tales from the Crypt.
Leap M: A gritty one-shot about a dishonorably discharged veteran that doesn’t pull its punches!
Nightmare Theater Anthology 2: I edited the short comic “Good Bones”, which takes place in the funny/horrifying world of Turner Family Terrors. (Sidenote: I also edited the second issue of Turner Family Terrors this year!)
Retribution #1: A black-white-and-red mini-series with a gritty art style inspired by Frank Miller’s Sin City, this comic explores the darker side of love with plenty of intense violence.
Ruination #3-4: A fantastical series featuring a group of soldiers from seemingly opposing sides who must work together hunting magical artifacts to stop a war that could destroy the world as they know it.
Salty Roos #3, The Canal Creepers: I’m the series editor for Salty Roos, which stars three anthropomorphic kangaroos who are into extreme sports and solving mysteries. I’ll have more announcements related to this in 2022!
Stake Presents: Jessamy #2: A vampire series taking place on an American plantation in the 18th century.
Territory #2: Explores a world where tribes worship kaiju (giant monsters) as gods.
Who’s Knot Hare: A cute children’s book featuring variety of cryptids, including Bigfoot and the Chupacabra.
Zombie Deathball Mayhem: An oddball horror title involving a woman and her pet chihuahua searching for an orthodontist in the zombie apocalypse.
Kickstart the Week
Over the course of 2021, I’ve continued my trend of posting “Kickstart the Week” interviews with crowdfunding creators on Comic Frontline, showcasing their projects. I posted 23 interviews with creators exploring just about every genre in comics. Some of my personal favorites include:
(PODCAST) Kickstart the Week with Band of Warriors #1: The second episode of my podcast. I think the interview turned out great, but I did abandon doing the podcast after this because of how time-consuming interviewing and editing it turned out to be. I’m glad I went through the experience though.
Kickstart the Week(end) with CLASSIC MONSTERS UNLEASHED – Horror Fiction Anthology: A rare example of a mostly prose project to be featured, this is another Kickstarter that raised an impressive amount of money and featured an amazing line-up of horror starts. Including featuring art pieces by the late and great Frank Frazetta.
Kickstart the Week(end) with The Deadliest Bouquet: Speaking with the talented, Ringo Award-nominated writer Erica Schultz, was a real blast. I’ve met her in person, and she is such a wise person brimming with interesting ideas that she turns into Kickstarter successes.
After a few years of failing to develop a true newsletter (after an unfulfilling attempt led to what I consider a pretty boring update system that I ran on my website from 2013-2017), Comic Maven’s Archives found its home as a Substack newsletter beginning with my first recap of August 2021. If you've missed any of my newsletters from this past year, they hang out here.
Plans for 2022
While 2021 was a year that marked a lot of progress for me as a writer and editor, my self-care really went on the backburner. I’m a self-confessed workaholic filled with unavoidable stress and anxiety. In some ways, this helps me be an attentive worker. In others, it makes me work myself into exhaustion and tip into the fringes of burnout.
While work environments have changed (for better or worse) due to our current climate, one trend I’ve noticed that I think is more on the positive side is an increasing focus on the fact that we should show more concern when people work a shocking number of hours rather than just praise them for working a bizarre amount and never calling it a day to take care of themselves. Something I’ve found myself saying to several creators this year is that their health should come first, their work second. This is a piece of advice I need to learn to start following myself, which is pretty much just a long-winded way of saying that I think a lot of us should be going into 2022 with self-care as our New Year’s Resolutions that we carry with us throughout the entire year.
What does that mean for me? I’m still figuring that out. I don’t necessarily know if it will require slowing down anytime soon for me, but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get more selective with the projects I take on and actually (sometimes) take some time off on weekends.
So yeah, I’m still a work-in-progress. But 2021 has helped me feel like a much more accomplished work-in-progress than 2020, and I hope to keep the trend going upwards for 2022.
What about you? What were your highlights from 2021 and what are your resolutions for 2022? Share your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more updates every month!