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Friday, January 14, 2011

One decade down...

The obligatory self-reflective/self-indulgent end of the year/decade blog post... (Cue the Doogie Howser music)

In my personal life, 2010 was a strange, stressful, difficult year that was punctuated by a tragic loss of a good friend. But rather than focusing on the sadness of that loss, I've used it to reflect on all the good things in life, and to move forward focusing on the positives and not letting depression or stress get the best of me. As the fog of 2010 clears, I can now look back and see it as a very good year. And it's been an incredible decade...

2010 was my tenth year of self-publishing my comics and art books. And despite a terrible economy and countless reports that both comic books and print media are dying, I produced four new comic books and a mini-art book: Neely Covers Comics to Give You the Creeps, Bound & Gagged, Doppelgänger and War Paint. Meanwhile, The Igloo Tornado's Henry & Glenn Forever has quickly become a best-selling, mini-comics phenomenon. I made an album cover for one of my all-time favorite bands, designed an awesome shirt for one of my favorite vegan organizations, and made a Henry & Glenn X-mas cartoon that has spread like a mild head-cold on the internet.

2010 is also a small personal achievement because a little more than ten years ago, I was at my art school graduation listening to someone give a speech that included the old cliche: "9 out of 10 of you will not be making art 10 years from now..." I looked around at my fellow MFA graduates and felt determined to be that one out of ten who was still making art. 10 years and 28 books later, I'm still here and I feel like I'm just getting started...

(not including a dozen or so anthologies and books published by others)

So, here's to a new decade in which I plan to move forward with less stress, more productivity, and with a greater appreciation for what I have and what I can achieve. 2011 will finally see the release of my second graphic novel The Wolf. I also have some anthology and short stories planned for release later in the year. I hope to release the first IWDY comic, Aminals #1 from 2000, as my first web-comic very soon. And the Igloo Tornado will possibly have some more Henry & Glenn stuff coming up as well. I'll be heading out to several comic festivals and other events this year including Stumptown, TCAF and hopefully some new shows in cities I've never been to.

To the people who read my comics and enjoy my art, I can't thank you enough. Being an independent, self-publishing artist can be difficult and a seemingly thankless job at times. Making art and comics is a very personal process and releasing it into the world is always a bit scary. But when that art makes a connection with someone, it is very meaningful to me. I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to look at what I do. Thank you for being a part of what has kept me going for the last 10+ years.


bb said...

Thanks, Tom, for the thoughtful post, and for 10+ years of hard work. It's great to see how it has evolved, and keeps getting better with each new project. Keep it up, and here's to another productive decade!

B A S T A R D I S E R said...

as an illustrator myself with countless worries about the future and what it holds for a freelance artist in this day and age, reading your positive comments and thoughts is really that extra bit uplifting and inspiring. it's nice to see hope especially, as said, in these dark days. cheers, and here's to the future!

- rory.

tom Neely said...

Thanks Rory,

I am glad that my post uplifts you... But I don't want to give you false hope... I do as much work as I can in illustration and art and comics, but I'm still not earning a living at making that kind of art. I wish I could find more of that work, but in order to do the kind of personal artwork in comics, illustration, painting, etc, that I want to do, I have to maintain a day-job to pay the bills.

Unfortunately self-publishing my art and comics is only a break-even endeavor so far. I used the day-job to fuel my personal art. The down-side is less time to work on my personal work. The upside is that the day-job keeps me afloat so I never have to take on an illustration or comics job that I don't want to do. To me, I think it's important for any true artists to maintain a job that is separate from their art. That may not be the plan for everyone, but it's my own personal philosophy that has worked so far.

But there is hope... Every year the gains from my personal art are a little bit bigger. After ten years of self-publishing, that has become a self-sustaining operation. In the beginning, it was always a financial loss, but I kept at it because I have to. And he hope is that it will continue to build.

It's a slow process, but if we keep at it, we may eventually be self-sustained artists making the kind of art we want to make. Until then, we have to keep plugging away using all of your efforts to get there.

I'm starting to write an essay for a zine about this stuff, so I hope I'll be able to write something a bit more clear and detailed (rather than a quick response in the comments) in that piece.

Anyways... I struggle just as much as the rest of us artists working in a culture that undervalues artistic expression. But I think the struggle just makes the art even more meaningful. So, keep your hope going and good luck. Thanks for posting your comment. It uplifts me to know that something I wrote has uplifted others.

tom Neely said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zak sally said...

great post, tom.
keep the faith, you sumbitch.

B A S T A R D I S E R said...


thanks for the reply, i understand what you're saying and respect it wholeheartedly. the future is going to be tough i'm sure, and i absolutely agree that it's going to be toil and a struggle and i hope i didn't come off as naive in my comment. i eagerly await and look forward to reading that essay, as well as everything else you have to offer in the next year, esp. the wolf!

- rory

tom Neely said...

Rory- Ha! You worry about sounding naive, and I worry about sounding like a pompous ass. We're even. I checked out your blog. Cool stuff- I especially like those pieces you posted on Nov 1st. Good luck and keep in touch.

Justin said...

Looking forward to what the next 10 brings!


Ryan Standfest said...

Thank you for the great work, Tom!

Very honored to have the opportunity to be involved in/with Neely projects. I certainly hope to continue following your work and working with you into the future.


Rob Clough said...

Congrats, Tom. I've been amazed at your output, all done while working on another major book.

Kevin Uehlein said...

Thanks for all the comics, can't wait for The Wolf!

kevin said...

Keep it up, I've really enjoyed your output. As someone about to graduate from an MFA program, I can look to your artistic career as a good example. Can't wait for The Wolf!!!