As 2012 draws to a close, I am recovering both from the worst back pain of my life and a moderate chest cold that, happily, I managed with over-the-counter medication and managed to not miss a day of work (the back pain kept me in bed and out of work for days). So as I ponder reflecting on the year about to conclude, I have to admit it is with a bit of fatigue and the probably-futile hope that 2013 will be better. If nothing else, at least the name of the coming year — 2013 — is reassuringly futuristic, signaling as it does the final defeat of those silly Mayan Calendar legends (or — does it?).
The final week of 2011 saw me going in for a job interview after 19 months of unemployment that really rattled my worldview and tested the ability of my family to subsist on my wife’s salary plus my unemployment benefits. As the year wound down, a year or so ago, I found out I was to be hired, and in fact I started working at my current job on the first workday of the new year, 2012.
I replaced as production director and copywriter a woman whose considerable skills in the radio broadcasting industry had impressed an intimidated me for many years. I quickly found out that she and I managed our duties very differently, and I kind of got a leg up due to the differences in our approaches and the appreciation my colleagues had for my less dogmatic practices in regard to the writing and production of radio commercials. In the 11+ months I have spent in this job, I have had a lot of creative challenges, and come to the conclusion that this is the most fulfilling job I’ve had in my 27-year career. Every day is different, I work with a team of true professionals who love what they do, and overall it’s a huge improvement over the compromise and frustration required of the radio jobs I held in the decade previous to my current gig.
Not long after starting my new job, early in 2012, my sister died. I said a lot about that in the essay I wrote in the days after that event (click the link for more), and a lot of what I wrote could be called cold or callous. My feelings haven’t changed a bit. It does feel strange to be the only remaining natural child of my mother, but that is an unavoidable consequence of growing older, and if nothing else, 2012 was a year in which event after event made me feel older, if not more mature.
One of the few truly joyous events of the year was my purchase in the spring of a new laptop. I even began blogging from a coffee shop, although that didn’t last long (here’s the second and final coffee shop post), due to the radio station moving from a busy downtown with a coffee shop a few doors down to a more suburban locale, as well as my eventual realization that my choice of the largest laptop available (a 17-inch Dell model) meant that I was not going to be lugging it around everywhere like some people do. When you factor in the large power supply and the much-needed cooling platform, I’m packing a lot into the large messenger bag I got with this beast, and it’s roughly the equivalent of carting around a ten-month old baby, minus diaper changings. So the laptop is semi-permanently docked at home, and aside from having to replace the entire keyboard (under warranty, thank fuck), it has functioned pretty spectacularly well and I love it to death. It’s the first computer in my life that I made all my own, deciding if I shared it with no one, I would lessen the risk of viruses or malware popping up on it, and when that does happen, if it does, at least I will know who to blame. The selfishness of my choice did (and does) cause a little friction with certain family members, but there are two functioning PCs elsewhere in the house, and although I know it was a selfish choice, I do feel like I deserve it.
In April, Lora went in for serious, life-altering surgery that ultimately made her healthier and happier, although the recovery was dicey and took longer than expected. The operation was conducted at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, and I was amazed and pleased by the way they do things there. Efficient, compassionate, logical. I’d never seen health care like it.
Not long after that, daughter Kira moved out and took a traveling sales gig that was a complete catastrophe, paying almost nothing and exposing her to some pretty shitty living conditions for a couple of months. She’s back home now, and although I am sure she misses the independence, I think she appreciates getting to eat every day. With one of my kids having reached adulthood and the other a year away from doing so, I did reflect a bit on my two decades of parenting.
This was the year I relaunched Comic Book Galaxy (on the eve of its 12th birthday) as a single-writer (me) blog of news and commentary. It briefly was popular with old readers and a lot of industry insiders, and I basked in a Costanza-like feeling of being “back, baby!” That was not to last more than a few weeks, when the unbroken string of well-received daily posts culminated in a poorly-timed rant calling the late Joe Kubert to task for his collaboration with DC on the wretched Before Watchmen project. Here’s one guy explaining my fuckup. There’s plenty more if you want to Google “Doane, Kubert, Watchmen,” have at it. Make a snack, it could take a while.
This incident resulted in more negative attention in three days than I received in the 12 years previous for all other combined dumb-ass things I might have written. I shut down CBG, only to bring it back a week or two later, only two shutter it permanently a few weeks after that, my heart being broken by the culture of comics allowing criminally wrong bullshit like Before Watchmen to happen at all, plus other sins like the tolerance for the ethical lapses, racism, sexism, homophobia and extremism found in the industry and among its fans, personified by the likes of assholes like Batton Lash, Chuck Dixon, Ethan Van Sciver, Orson Scott Card and many others. The combination of these and other factors prompted me in large part to abandon comics altogether, whittling my subscription list down to two titles (IDW’s Star Trek and Image’s Fatale) and, in September, selling off the bulk of my graphic novel collection, which three years ago hovered very near a thousand titles, now cut down to a little over 100. It was a decision made far easier by the ethical choice of not wanting any books in my house by creeps and douchebags like Joe Straczynski and Darwyn Cooke. Fuck them, fuck what they’ve done, and fuck everything they’ve ever done, was basically what motivated me. Petulant? Sure. Life-affirming? You bet your ass. I wish more comics readers would evaluate their collecting habits in comparison to what they say they believe about what’s right and wrong. Clearly the industry doesn’t give a fuck and never has, and many of its writers and artists obviously are more than willing to go along to get along. Fuck them, too.
A side-effect of these events was a retreat from much of the internet, deleting my Facebook account and focusing solely on my Twitter feed for any social networking impulses. My wife, now, she’s seen my cycles and ups and downs for decades, and questions whether at some point I will dive back in, the way things used to be. It seems unlikely, but you never know with me, and the Kubert thing certainly proved that I still have the power to surprise, and sicken, and outrage. Stay tuned.
As Thanksgiving looms in the week ahead, I will say I am thankful for quite a bit, despite the negative threads that ran through 2012. I am grateful for the support of my true friends, online and in the real world, and for the fact that my family is intact (once again) and everyone is relatively healthy and okay. I wish my back pain would clear up entirely, but I have a role in that too, and need to take better care of myself. I certainly want to.
I am spectacularly relieved and delighted that voters in Los Estados Unidos rejected greed and bigotry at the polls on election day, and I hope that the spirit of progress, tolerance and peaceful revolution grows stronger and more powerful in the months ahead.
Whatever readers remain, thanks for following me here, or on Twitter, or for however long you followed me at Comic Book Galaxy, Trouble With Comics, A Criminal Blog, Kochalkaholic, or wherever you stumbled into me. I want to write more in 2013 than I did in 2012, but at the moment that is a desire more than a solid goal, and I’m not entirely certain what form its expression ultimately might take. As a writer about comics, my mis-steps this year left me bruised and devalued, but there are other things to write about than comics. Maybe in the year ahead I’ll explore some of that territory. Whatever you choose to do, and however your year has gone, I hope 2013 finds you happier, healthier, at peace and perhaps even prosperous. It might be selfish to say, but I think we deserve it.