The last issue of Strangehaven – issue #12 – shipped in time for Halloween 1999, and at that time, I was hoping that there would be a new issue in time for the Comics 2000 festival over the Easter weekend of 2000. As my long-suffering readers are fully aware, that deadline has come and gone without any sign of a new issue.
Am I really that slow? Well, I hope it’s apparent from my work that my research, drawing and rendering are relatively labour intensive; from day one, I always felt I owed my readers their money’s worth. But once I get going, I’m not that slow, really.
It’s more of a problem being able to find the time to draw. As successful as Strangehaven has been – relatively speaking, as a self-published one-man labour of love – it certainly hasn’t been lucrative enough to support even the most frugal of lifestyles. So, over the past five years, I’ve juggled a combination of income sources from part-time employment to letting rooms in my home in order to make ends meet. The Holy Grail being the job that pays the maximum financially and yet occupies the least of my time and creative energy.
From March 1999 I have been working in a number of roles at the local college of arts and technology, and even had a spell as an IT/Art & Design lecturer – but due to the college’s high turnover of staff, I’ve been “persuaded” to work overtime on a frequent basis to cover for colleagues’ holidays, illnesses and for vacant posts. I soon came to the conclusion that a career in lecturing would be incompatible with my comics career – no matter how lucrative – and resigned from that particular post. Unfortunately, I’ve been working 11 hours a day for many, many weeks, which hasn’t left much time for anything else at all.
Over the past few months, I’ve also been in the process of moving home. “Home” consisting of vast quantities of comics, books, videos and records plus my art studio, computer system and suchlike that has now been compacted into something like half its former area. Everyone who’s moved house must empathise with the turmoil even the most planned and careful relocation can bring.
I almost hesitate to mention the fact that I badly damaged the thumb of my drawing for fear of over-extending my reader’s sympathy. But the freak accident (playing soccer of all things) has caused me some pain and difficulty for some months since the hospital diagnosed a chipped bone and damaged ligaments. A full recovery is still looked forward to.
A number of other projects have been pursued in the mistaken hope that a quick buck would bankroll full-time comics creation, including the development of this website, the commission of a movie treatment and extensive negotiation about a TV series, all of which are predictably yet to bear fruit.
These are some of the reasons (or excuses) why I’ve been unable to get drawing on a regular basis. Since the last issue, I have produced a new cover and several spot illustrations for the second Strangehaven trade paperback collection, Brotherhood; I have also been plotting out the next two (!) books and scripting portions of them – so I haven’t been entirely idle.
Strangehaven will not be going the same way as Big Numbers. Gary Spencer Millidge will not be going the same way as Martin Wagner. I’ll never be Dave Sim either, but I remain committed to the comics art form and hope to continue to produce my work on regular basis until either my eyes, limbs or vital organs fail me.
Strangehaven #13 will be scheduled when finished, and as soon as there is any further news, I will post it on this website. Thank you for your understanding.