2013… The Best of Times… The Worst of Times

So here we are, almost a month into 2014. High time for a blog update. And this time I’m going to look back at my 2013 and look forward to what 2014 has in store.

I declared 2012 as my year of adventure, and for the most part it was! 2013 however seemed to be my year of being ill!

Towards the end of 2012 I started with a condition called Urticaria or Hives (pictured).

A patch of Urticaria.

A patch of Urticaria.

Urticaria can be triggered by a virus or allergic reaction and manifests itself as red spots and swellings. At times my entire body would be covered in these itching blighters and also my eyes, mouth and hands would swell up. Hives tend to last for a duration of 6 weeks. In my case however I had it almost everyday for over a year. The cause for me was mostly likely stress related! So as a result for the first time in my life I was put on a ton of medication including a high dose of steroids.

Now while all this was going on, in January I was invited to work on The Beano! If you have been a follower of this blog you will know that I had been involved in creating some new strips for The Dandy weekly, which in hindsight may have been a catalyst for my stress. YES, the Dandy was great fun to work on and a real dream come true for me, but the effort to constantly come up with new characters to stay in the pages of the classic weekly eventually took it’s toll. Unbeknown to me at the time I must add.

SO onto the Beano, and at last this was what I was really after. I was always a Beano kid so having the chance to draw Dennis, Minnie and the Bash Street Kids was the best thing ever! And fortunately my time on The Beano has been successful. Throughout 2013 I must have had work in almost every issue and I hope that to be the case for 2014 too!

But stress! This breakthrough for me was what I’d been working so hard to achieve and I wasn’t going to let it go. So I worked, and worked, and worked my socks off, all hours day and night. I loved it but…. STRESS. Stress is a weird  thing. You don’t always realise you have it. But I did, and I found myself escaping in my work. I was only happy when I was working and alone, and this effected my relationships with my family and friends. The stress, the Urticaria, the medication was turning me into a monster, or so I thought. I have been assured that I wasn’t a monster, but I sure felt like it.

Now what happened to me has no reflection on my working relationship with The Dandy and Beano team, they are all brilliant to work with and long may my working relationship with them continue. I think it was my own insecurities and fear of losing what I had worked so hard to achieve, that was making me ill. I had wanted to draw for The Beano since I was 5 years old. That dream never left me.

So here is a small selection of the work I did in 2013, I’m really proud of it.

Bone Wars © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Bone Wars © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

The Bone Ranger © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

The Bone Ranger © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Tomato Trouble © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Tomato Trouble © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Bully Beef & Chips Dandy Annual 2014 © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Bully Beef & Chips Dandy Annual 2014 © DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

© DC Thomson & Co Ltd

Oscar's Orc Army from Toxic Magazine

Oscar’s Orc Army from Toxic Magazine

2013 had taken it’s toll on me both mentally and physically. I was grouchy, irritable, at times tearful.. it was stress and then came depression and more medication! What on earth did I have to be depressed about? Well sometimes our bodies just tell us we need time out.

2013 your were ace…. 2013 you were terrible!

But now 2014!

I must start by saying I have had that much needed time out. 4 weeks off, no drawing, no thinking about comics and the next big thing. And do you know what? I’m feeling so much better. No hives, feeling stress free and my depression seems to have lifted. My wife says it’s like having a new man around.

It’s also time for a change. My freelance business started out 9 years ago as a graphic design business. During 2013, I didn’t do any graphic design work to speak of, it’s all been comics. And comics and cartoons seen to be the thing I’m now known for. So a little later in the year I will be trading under a new name to reflect the comics and cartoon work I now do a lot of. I will be joined by a lovely new business partner (the wife!) and we have some lovely ideas to bring you. A new website is in the planning, a weekly webcomic to accompany it is being produced, and a whole host of new content is being written for the  launch.

I needed some help.. I’ve got it! And 2014 is looking rosy.

Here’s to more comics and fun!

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