Usually on my blog I like to talk about topics that can be deemed informative in regards to comics. But every now and then I take the road less traveled and talk about ME! And if there’s any time to do that, it’s now, at the end of the year. I take this time to look back at the year that’s been had at Hot Cakes Comics.
Last year was the year I really got started. I’ve had this website since late 2015, but things didn’t really start moving until 2016. So, as it goes, this year built upon the last. The biggest thing that happened to me this year was I started drawing more. I began Big Trouble in Little Comics back in 2016, so I would draw those every now and then. But it wasn’t until this year that I made a much more regular habit of drawing. The more time that went by, the more I turned to myself to draw stories. In short, I stepped up to the mantle of cartoonist this year. That gave me a little more courage to see what I could do.
So as my role continued to evolve, I ended Big Trouble and started Egghead. This was a big deal for me. I don’t always think that Egghead is necessarily great, but I do think it’s important for me. Not only is it an ongoing story, but it updates every week, unlike Big Trouble which was every other week. This keeps me from being too lazy. And, maybe most significantly for me, it resuscitated my very first project. As many people know, Egghead was the first series I created. When the artist left, it got shelved. Then, it was the work I did this year that gave me the confidence to both write and draw the series. Finally, the story is moving again.
I think, though, the best thing I did for myself was participating in Inktober. The daily routine of drawing did me some real good. It built up a habit, it gave me constant work to share, and most importantly, it allowed me to practice, practice, practice. I think it was this experience that also helped me to develop more of my own style. Some of the drawings were far better than others, but it’s through these mistakes that I was able to learn, too.
In 2017 I also started going to more conventions. That is both as spectator and creator. Both are good. They help you build contacts and show you what’s going on in your local scene. This was also the year I got to see Peter Bagge talk and have a long chat with Kyle Baker. So that was pretty cool. Not all of my conventions were great, though. I experienced the worst one to date, and I can’t lie, it felt pretty bad. It was not fun, and I didn’t feel like I learned a whole lot, except to be more careful about what cons I sign up for!
When I look back on this year I think about how much I’ve read, too. I read so much. And that is awesome. This year I went from just reading, to studying (consciously) what’s before me. I finished Chew, (there’s still a hole in my heart there), I finally read some Moebius, I read the Contract with God Trilogy, I continued my descent into the massive Hellboy universe (becoming a huge, huge fan along the way), I discovered my love for Popeye by E.C. Segar, I found a teacher in Carl Barks, and so much more. I am lucky to work at a place with such easy access to books, as well as a digital library. It’s so simple to get comics now, I literally can’t stop reading! And in terms of next year, I just plan to read more. This comics odyssey has shown me what is possible in the medium, and motivated me to try different things each time I sit down to draw.
A big challenge for me this year was upping my social media game. These days, you need those platforms. There are a lot of potential viewers out there, and you have to try to get them any way you can. Before the last half of this year, I was rarely on Twitter, and only on Facebook and Instagram when I needed to be (for Hot Cakes, anyway). But now I see the uptick in interaction and connections I’ve made, and can’t help but feel like I wasted some time by waiting so long to get on the ball. You have to promote yourself. And though I knew this before, I only truly started to peruse every possible avenue this year.
With all of this reflection in mind, let me think about what I aim to do this coming year. The biggest thing is I need to keep going. It sounds too simple, but I have to remind myself sometimes. In addition, I need to focus a little more. I did so much exploring this year, I think I slowed down my input a little. So I have to streamline everything and get on track to…somewhere. My biggest goal is to find where that “somewhere” is. Sometimes I feel a little lost, and this year I look to change that. Hot Cakes is an evolving thing, and I look to find where all this change is going. I want to go to more conventions, grow my Patreon, read more, and above all, like I always say, keep making comics.