During some of my occasional check-ins at the DEADBEATS ONLINE page, I’ve been noticing that I always don’t always see new episodes. Generally, when this occurs, it’s attributable to me not overseeing the flow of pictures and prose to the right people at the right time, but in this case, it seems to be a multi-tiered kefluffle.
This past July, our invaluable embellisher Ricardo Villagran scheduled a long-overdue visit to the USA (mostly Manhattan), bringing with him hundreds–literally–of my DEADBEATS originals with him, to return to me. (As longtime EDITOR’S CORNER readers–and even intermittent droppers-in–may remember, Argentina–where Ricardo is based–has decided that original art, of any variety, cannot be shipped out of the country, so Ricardo’s been sending me back super-hi-resolution photocopies of the boards, and the surplus has been building up down South of the Border.) Anyway, Ricardo was also going to bring the latest grouping of DEADBEATS pages, which–unfortunately–I already needed for quick turnaround. (I got them to him late.) So I waited until he got to NYC and FedExed the new pages to me (and the other few hundred later than week) a little late. That accounted for one of our little lapses.
Then, our invaluable letterer/poster/webmaster Thom Zahler informed me that he was finally following through on a major life-change: to move back to the Midwest after spending the last few years in the Los Angeles area. That’s halfway across the country, so it’s a big step (also, since Thom’d already moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles, that probably means, by some styles of accounting, that he’s made it all the way across the country, right?). Predictably, as anyone who’s ever planned and executed a major move can attest, these projects always manage to be more stressful and time-consuming as they can possibly get. Therefore, Thom was out of the game for several weeks as well.
Oddly enough, these atypical lapses–if that noun could be applied to those two gentlemen–on the parts of two of the most reliable professionals with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of working, have coincided with a huge upsurge in creativity and control on my part. I’m scripting like a demon, and drawing like a dervish. One night, I scripted six episodes of DEADBEATS ONLINE before dawn (while watching ALL MY CHILDREN online, if that’s at all pertinent), and during the morning, drew Episode #964 and designed #965 and #966. I’m very aware that DEADBEATS ONLINE is within sight of Episode #1000, certainly a milestone for me, and I promise a big surprise pay-off in that day’s installment.
Anyway, things are auspicious and getting better, even if we’re still operating a bit sputteringly in terms of posting new DEADBEATS ONLINE on our oft-stated schedule.
So…don’t read anything dismal into the lack of regular postings. Sometimes the small speed-bumps which afflict each of us can concurrently hit more than one member of a creative team. Believe me, when the bog drags down our joint progress, no one’s more frustrated than I am. (There are times at which I marvel–no pun intended–at the fact that I ran a comic-book company, managing at times a dozen or so deadlines, emergencies, and individual concerns for almost fifteen years.)
I think that I can promise a well-nigh-uninterrupted run of DEADBEATS ONLINE in the foreseeable future. Just assume the best, and you won’t be disappointed.
Oh, did I mention that there’s plenty of exciting content in those upcoming installments, too. In the current storyline, the action shifts into a higher gear as the mayor’s plot to establish himself as Mystic Grove’s savior risks the safety of some of the town’s most respected citizens. With Mrs. Haggard, Mac Raffio, and Langley Bowman all as co-conspirators, it was practically predetermined that there would be casualties, but the full extent of the damage goes far beyond what could have been predicted. Also, a character who had seemed to be safe is put in terrible peril, another presence returns from what had seemed to be ultimate destruction, and plenty of good people strive against the multifaceted forces of darkness. There’s also two guest appearances by characters who’ve only been seen in the “destroyed town” sequence.
(Yeah, don’t worry; I’m not going to bog down the narrative with complicated alternate-universe caption blocks. As far as I–or anyone–knows, these characters have been within town limits all along, just not subject to the same circumstances that impacted them back in the “pre-corrected” universe.) Mostly, I try not to confuse the prospective new reader with the trickiness of my going back and restructuring three hundred published installments of DEADBEATS ONLINE to rework, restore, and–in some cases undercut–the previously-established course of time. We’re all–Mystic Grove (and us, too)–right now, and there’s certainly enough happening to keep the storyline rolling merrily (well, sometimes not so merrily) along.
For various reasons, I haven’t felt confident enough to have managed a brush in about three years, but now things are much more stable and I’m trying to get back in the groove. Not helping: Most of the ink that’s been sitting on my shelves for those three years has separated, congealed, or just gotten unmanageable in one way or another. Next Manhattan trip will include a drop-in at Sam Flax, for sure.
Oh, I forgot to mention: One of the reasons I haven’t felt too overly distraught about not being able to turn out fully-inked, all-Richard Howell work is that the inking duties have been assumed and delivered by the like of Ricardo Villagran (almost all) and Nick Cardy (once in a blue moon, but worth the wait). I’ve also spoken with Louis Lachance about our collaborating together again, even if it’s just for fun. Louis inked most of the DEADBEATS covers from #60 until the end, and–as I could also apply to Ricardo–when the Editor of the line chooses you as his inker, it means he really likes your work.
I recently had one of those weird moments of synchronicity. I was on the phone with Kurt Busiek, discussing an upcoming collaboration, and mentioned that about two-and-a-half weeks beforehand, I’d followed through on an unexplained urge to reread all of the Elizabeth Peters “Amelia Peabody” (the world’s greatest romantic archaeologist) mysteries, and that I’d found an Egyptian term in one of them that might be useful for our project. Kurt asked me to send it along and also mentioned “Oh, you know Elizabeth Peters died recently, didn’t you?” (which I didn’t). She was immensely successful (and talented) and lived a long, full life, so it wasn’t upsetting on that level, but it was curious that she’d passed away on the same day as I–all unknowing–got the urge to immerse myself in her longest-running book series. Jo Duffy–another big Peters fan–and I did a salute to Amelia Peabody and her irascible family back in ELVIRA #99 (which I–invoking one of the perks of being Editor–pencilled myself), and it wound up being one of my favorite jobs. I frequently demur at sending “homage/salute/whatever”-type work to the artists to whom it’s intended to be respectful and salutory, but I do wonder at times–and this is one of them–what Ms. Peters (actually Ms. Mertz, as I recall)–would have thought about the ELVIRA tribute. I pencilled a just-because drawing of Elvira and the ersatz-Peabody/Emerson family which was (nicely) inked by the aforementioned Louis Lachance, which I can post here just as soon as I remember how to place art into my text postings.
Not too long back I realized that it was Jack Kirby’s birthday again. I can safely state with assurance that not a day goes by when his artistic influence isn’t felt around here (and I don’t just mean my square fingers). I also have the advantage of–whenever I’m noodling around on the computer and feeling uninspired or lazy–looking over my left shoulder and seeing the framed DEVIL DINOSAUR double-splash hanging above my piano. Now that’s inspiration! Wherever you and Roz are now, Jack, I hope you continue to be aware of how much your work meant to so many people.