2021: End of Year Wrap Up

Like last year, 2021 passed too quickly. It felt like nothing happened except an atemporal creative depression and misanthropic mania. So I’m trying something new and compiling a little end-of-year wrap-up to reflect. I still didn’t do as much as I like but there were some nice surprises and creative developments this year.

One of the highlights was releasing Graveneye, my first graphic novel as a writer instead of artist/writer! I got to collaborate with an artist I really admire, Anna Bowles, and the artwork she did for this story continues to amaze me. I feel so lucky to have created this story with her and can’t wait to work with Anna more! She brought such an impressive visual vocabulary and technical knowledge to our comic and it still astounds me as I re-read it all the little details she’s managed to carefully intertwine in each panel. I’ve done a lot of interviews and podcasts talking about the book but my favorite might be the one here at Off Panel with David Harper.

We also got some incredible blurbs, one from Paul Tremblay who said of the book, “GRAVENEYE is a lush, blood, gothic feast. A Kaleidoscopic mix of desire, hunger and revenge. Home is where the transformed heart is.” And one from Garth Ennis (!!!) who said “An expert blend of writing and art weaves a wonderful, macabre spell.” We’ve also gotten tons of lovely reviews which really thrills me; when people connect to our story on a macro and micro level, it’s truly a wonderful feeling as an artist and person. I was stressed about launching a second (!!!) book during the pandemic but thankfully it’s debut has gone okay.

I was also nominated for my first Eisner Award in the Best Publication for Teens and my received 3rd Ignatz nomination in the Outstanding Graphic Novel category for my graphic novel A Map to the Sun.

I was pretty bummed debuting Maps last year during the pandemic because that meant not only did I not get to do a proper IRL book tour but that shops were very conservative ordering it and my publisher was conservative in marketing it. It’s sales did below-average/okay and I was feeling pretty bitter about how it might just disappear from the the public eye before anyone could even read it. So getting these two nominations and bringing it to the fore of the comics reading scene was a real boost to my morale!

I also ran my first Kickstarter with my friend and co-editor Cassie for an illustrated horror anthology! Altogether we have 26 pieces of short fiction with accompanying originals illustrations for each. We also commissioned some beautiful cover art from Angie Wang with typography by my favorite graphic designer, Darius Ou.

This project was spawned during a conversation with a bunch of PoC authors in March about feeling barred from the general horror fiction scene and, feeling cooped up and manic, I roped in Cassie, planned the campaign, and launched it in August. I was shocked it was a success and now I’m really excited to see what other projects I can bring to life with a more direct line to people who like my work or my taste in other’s work. I’m closing pre-orders for the print edition of the anthology the first week of January so if you’d still like a copy, grab it here ASAP! Otherwise, it will be available digitally next Fall.

Outside of comics, I’ve been writing prose quite a bit. The sci-fi novel I wrote in 2020 is currently on submission to publishers and I published 4 stories to Dark Matter Magazine, Fireside Magazine, Buckman Journal, one piece of flash fiction at Dread Machine, and one piece of non-fiction at Apex Magazine. You can find links to all my available writing here.

This year I sold new short fiction to Dark Matter Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Analog Magazine and Bamboo Ridge to debut next year.

Another rewarding development was being involved in helping others manifest their stories in the medium of their choice. I was invited to be apart of a BIPOC writer mentoring initiative run by Ancestral Futures which was really fun and personally enlightening! Along with other a few other mentoring opportunities, I’ve started freelance developmental editing for fiction writers, comic writers, and cartoonists. I’m hoping to pick up more mentoring and editing work next year and make it a regular part of creative practice. You can find more information on that here if you’re interested!

Another development was moving Salt & Honey, a podcast I co-host with my good friend Leslie Hung, over to Youtube! If you don’t know, Salt & Honey was a podcast where we discuss comics, movies, television, and storytelling. We wanted a visual element to our show since that’s a core aspect we often discuss, so moving to YT seemed like a good idea! We’ve also live streamed some of ours shows instead of pre-recording which has been really fun. You can subscribe to our Youtube or listen to our archive of almost 100 podcast episodes here!

Another exciting project I’ve signed on for that will span well into next year: I’m co-Programming Chair for the 2022 Flights of Foundry Literary Convention! My co-chair is the lovely Marissa James and we’ve already begun developing a solid little seed program to begin our venture! The con will be virtual and attendance will be free with an option to donate. I’m really excited to bring a lot of incredible creative people together for this con! Oh, and another thing I got to do with Dream Foundry this year was be a discussion leader for a comic book club! We read and talked weekly about Pichetshote’s comic Infidel which was enriching to chat about it.

Some other fun things of note: I did more first reading for the We the Indigenous reading series! At Kori Handwerker’s invitation, I gave a lecture on color over Zoom for Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. I got to voice a few lines in a Princess Mononoke dub organized by my amazing friend Sophia! I’m an LA Times Book Prize judge and have read over 100 graphic novels published this year! I paneled at the super-fun FIYAHcon and Nebulas Conference. I also was on a panel about Comparative Speculative Futures hosted by Brown University. I got to work in my first writer’s room (virtual of course) with Curtis Chen, Millie Ho, Jenn Reese and Monte Lin and created a season of ECHO PARK 2060. I started a virtual book club which has been going strong all year! My short story Mouth & Marsh, Silver & Song is getting translated into Spanish! My first year of being in a regular critique group went amazing and I also got to be apart of a cool indie writing workshop hosted by M Tellez. After a long time of not playing games, I played/got obsessed with SMT 3 and Persona 5. I watched all of Sopranos (like everyone else). I also really got into ceramics. I also wrote probably close to 300k words across some solo and collaborative writing projects!

Next year I’m hoping to do a few things like finish Prism Stalker Book 2, to be published by Dark Horse, which was leaked somehow lol. I’ve been struggling with doing comics this year but I’m slowly building back up my inking stamina and creative focus. I also have a new slice-of-life graphic novel that’s in the process of final negotiations with a publisher which I’m hoping gets announced soon! And then I have two proposals on submission with me as writer on both and two incredible artists attached. Fingers crossed they find homes soon!

On the far future side of things, some goals and future projects I want to try and tackle are Kickstarting and hosting my own version of Manben focused on North American cartoonists, work on my next novel, and try to get my foot in the door with games writing. I also want to try and organize a non-hierarchical comics workshop where working cartoonists can come together (maybe in person even) and work, critique each other and give lectures or lead craft discussions! Maybe even a prose workshop, too….we’ll see!

All in all, a surprisingly busy year? I was totally convinced when I started writing this post that I did nothing!. Anyway, I’m looking forward to 2022 and hopinghopinghoping we’ll be in a safer state where we can emerge from our pandemic cocoons!

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