The birdies are tweeting at me. It is a very nice day.

Barry Lyga and my publisher went over the art for the GN and I have a (thankfully) easy list of little changes to make. The book is being lettered by Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis, which is a great relief. Houghton Mifflin made the very wise decision to go with known comic book industry quantities for the nuts and bolts of this book. Many mainstream book industry graphic novels skimp on the basics. I’m unable to read some of these GN’s without cringing.

This month has been my most productive since 2006. I am much more confident about my drawing, and have learned a great deal about digital art. While Gone to Amerikay and Stealth Tribes are analog works, I plan to keep in practice with digital art over the next few months. I forget digital tricks easily.

As I mentioned before, I went through a dry period for several years, due to a health-related issue and serious personal matters. I also entertained the idea of chucking art for a living and made the rounds of academia to scope out the possibility of getting a degree in Asian studies or law. The $150,000 bill was a bit daunting. Even though I was able to get accepted into some very good schools, I decided I’d better stick with art as vocation and went to digital design school instead. So, most of the latter part of 2006-2007 saw me back in the classroom.

Which kind of sucked except for being introduced to Lynda.com, a terrific online resource for digital art classes that made art school redundant. And it’s a lot cheaper than art school.

The bad thing about taking yourself off the pro market for a year is getting back on the art job circuit is tricky as hell. You have to plan gigs months in advance, and I got a string of low-paying, low satisfaction gigs. For months and months. Combined with the weird cognitive problems I experienced (I called it the Grey Fog, which turned out to be due to a minor chemical imbalance easily fixed with an over-the-counter nutritional supplement) I had a series of bummer professional years, both financially and creatively.

Fortunately, things started to turn around in 2009, and by 2010 I was back in the saddle.

My work output, which had dropped to a meager 120 pages or so per year for several years in a row, shot to over 200 pages in 2010.

Since a lot of my work from 2006-2008 includes things like trading card art and conceptual design, it’s hard to make an exact comparison with comic book page output. But I track my work output on a calendar, and I saw months there where I routinely produced less than ten pages of art per month. I knew I was sick, but nothing illustrates the difference between being sick in the body and sick in the head like my work output. Even though I fought off a nasty respiratory infection over the last month, I sat up in bed and produced more finished art in a week than I did over the entirety of September 2007.

I don’t know if there is any useful takeaway from this for all you kids out there, except to say if you feel down for a protracted period of time, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. I hesitated and languished like Camille. And didn’t produce much art. I had considerable savings, which drained away. When I found out the bulk of the problem was a minor issue it made me want to kick myself. Of course, when you have no motivation, you don’t even feel motivated to go to a doctor to find out why you have no motivation. So, vicious cycle.

In 2009, I produced 128 pages of finished art. I did not parse that to show pencils, inks, paintings and the like.

Last year, I produced 162 pages of pencils/layouts, 148 pages of inks, and 18 paintings (analog and digital). I also did character design work and, of course, spent a lot of time on creator rights activism activities. As some of you may know, I considered taking a full-time job in Washington DC but decided against it.

This year, I will finish another 110 pages of inks, most of them between now and May. Also, about 30 pages of pencils. I will paint a 64 page graphic novel, and write the adaptation from the original short story. And I will produce more A Distant Soil comics for Image, and some original paintings for the website.

I will also spend a month out of the country at the end of the year.

I will have completed four original graphic novels this year, and I have enough money in the kitty to finance those two A Distant Soil comics.

Here is a look at my web traffic. And here’s hoping this improvement continues.