This editorial, “Strange Maven’s Diary,” originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #11, April 1999.
Above : Another busy day in the Abiogenesis Press communications room, as switchboard operator Eric screens fans’ telephone calls.
I receive a lot of letters asking about a self-publisher’s typical daily routine. Rather than answer this in the letters column, I thought that I’d devote this issue’s editorial to that subject. Of course, my tasks tend to vary widely on different days, but my typical day might go something like this:
I’m fortunate enough to not need much sleep, and I’m usually eager to rise and greet the day before 6 a.m. just before my alarm is set to go off. I’ll have a glass of orange juice and if the weather’s good, I’ll go for a jog round the park to get my metabolism going for the day. I also visit the gym several times a week and work out for an hour or so before returning home to shower.
I breakfast on wholemeal toast and poached eggs, more orange juice and a bowl or two of organic corn flakes before getting dressed. Over breakfast I sift through the morning’s mail, sorting the fan mail, unsolicited submissions, bills, cheques and business letters in preparation for my secretary Tanya to deal with appropriately.
My car arrives at 8.30 ready to take me into my studio in the centre of town, and I listen to The Today Programme on Radio 4 in order to catch up on the latest news during the short journey. Once in the studio, the first thing I like to do is check my e-mails in the front office and dictate any replies to Tanya. I do get so many, I can only personally reply to the most important ones, the rest I leave Tanya to deal with.
By now, my press agent Neil has usually arrived with the latest papers and magazines containing Strangehaven reviews and interviews, and we spend about half an hour or so going through them and making further suggestions on how to enhance my public image.
At about 11.00 a.m. I have my daily meeting with Paul and Trevor, my head writers to see if they’ve come up with any usable ideas for my next issue, or any ideas for merchandising or suchlike. It usually degenerates into a string of jokes, but we do actually get some work done on some days.
By now, my friends from across the Atlantic are usually stirring, and I have a three-way videoconference with my agent Chris in the USA and web-site designer Steven in Canada to discuss the day’s tasks. It’s a lot easier these days since the introduction of affordable video link via the Internet.
Tanya will usually bring me a light lunch during the meeting, a salad sandwich and orange juice, or if I fancy something hot, a broccoli and spinach dish with feta cheese, my favourite!
On Thursdays, I’ll receive a package from the local comic store containing all this week’s new comics releases – free of charge of course (one of the perks of the job) – and I like to at least flick through all of them, as I consider it to be very important to keep with all my competitors in such a cut-throat marketplace. Later I may call Alan Moore or Frank Miller (or whoever) to tell them what I thought of their latest books.
On other days, Neil has probably set up an interview or photo session with either the comics press or sometimes national and local newspapers and TV. Every two weeks, Linda will come in to trim my hair to make sure I’m presentable. Other afternoon tasks include looking over printer’s proofs for my next issue and studying the detailed sales reports sent out by my distributors.
Virtually every week I need to have meetings with Tony my accountant, Simon my bank manager and John my fund manager, and of course I need to speak to Glen at Diamond Distributors and Patrick at my printer Quebecor almost every day.
Then my driver Gerry arrives to take me down to the Abiogenesis Press warehouse on the other side of town, where I like to personally keep track of stock levels. Tim, the warehouse manager and I enjoy sharing a coffee and donuts as we go over the figures.
Again, if the weather’s good, I always like to try to get eighteen holes in before the day is out – golf is truly a wonderful game and I like to play as often as I can – usually with my brother David or my brother-in law Russell. Whenever I can, I like to get away to spend a week on a golf holiday, but due to the pressure of work I can only manage it four or five times a year.
I’ll pop back to the studio to see how things are progressing before I finish for the day, but usually find there’s a problem or two I need to attend to before I can get home.
I do like to see my kids (Huey, Dewey and Louie) before they’re in bed. My wife Ingrid and I live only an hour or so from London, and we like to visit a West-End show, a movie or even a Premiership football match most evenings. Afterwards we’ll enjoy a meal out in a restaurant (usually of my wife’s choice) and get home in time for a cognac or two while watching the late-night movie on TV before bedtime.
Now, cartooning and self-publishing can be tough – you’ll hear a lot of my colleagues moaning and groaning about the lifestyle, the work, the pressure – but to be frank there are many rewards and consolations and personally, I enjoy every single minute that I’m here on earth, despite all the hardships. I hope that this little peek inside the life of a cartoonist has helped you to understand why so many of us devote ourselves to this wondrous form of art we love to call comics.
OK, gotta go as my helicopter’s just landed in the back garden for my weekly game of croquet with the Prime Minister…
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