The Long Road to Project: Unknown #1
Project: Unknown #1 is done. It has been printed. It is in my hand. Yet the more I try to make comics, the more I'm realizing they will never really feel complete.
I decided a while ago I wanted to start two separate comic titles which have a lot to do with each other but will tell a different side of the same story. One of my favorite concepts in comic books is a shared universe. So when I set a course to slay my creative demons, I wanted badly to make parallel storylines. Those two storylines being M.I.A, and now Project: Unknown.
As I flip through the first few pages of this comic, I cringe at just how long ago they were pencilled, how I drew them casually at unstructured times in my life based on an idea I never planned out. I reflect on how I have always dreamt of making comics and just thought maybe one day, I’ll find a way. I just didn’t think it would take so long.
Excuses. A lot of excuses. And truthfully, they all stemmed from that enemy within - crippling self doubt.
I wish I could say I was crafting some well structured framework of a story arc but this was not a decade of pre-planning. (There are flip phones in the drawings for crying out loud.) One could drive themselves crazy with unconstrained creation questions. Should it be fantastical or more realistic? Too much inner thoughts, not enough. Start over. Redo what you have. Maddening. I don’t understand how all those indie creators are able to do it.
Ten years in the making and not even realizing it. I never drew big flashy pin ups of recognizable characters that flexed whatever drawing skills I might have possessed. I drew comics. Specifically this comic. Why?
I think I just figured this dream would eventually go away. When I was fourteen, the childhood idea of wanting to be a baseball player came to a halt after an awful season on the school team. Journeying into grown up ages means letting go of all childhood ideas that stopped becoming worth our time.
So life went on. I was lucky enough to have had several happy milestones. All the while, though, I was still making comics in spare time; that never left me. Honestly, I knew it wouldn’t go away. There’s a voice in our souls that communicates inside us. I heard mine and just never did anything about it.
Self doubt. I was just afraid to be vulnerable. Unsure how I could one day support a family on comics, I convinced myself there was too much talent out there to be able to try to join the ranks of a saturated market so I didn’t even start that path. But the soul kept grinding out pages almost subconsciously.
I spent all of high school drawing six complete issues of a comic just for me, my brother and a couple of friends. And years later, I can still look at them fondly, like a time capsule. Comics can be albums of their creator’s lives. Non-murdery horcruxes, a piece of yourself.
I'm not boasting. In fact, I write this embarrassed. I was just always afraid to put myself on a page and show it someone else. My comics are not better than anything else you can find on the shelf. But it took me too long to realize it doesn't matter. This is for me. Enough is enough. Eventually with old age, I gained that invaluable ability to stop caring.
I also pulled great inspiration from some individuals with creative strength around them. My sister received an MFA, has been making a living off her own business for years, and never stopped making amazing art. My wife is a creative mind I get to enjoy on a regular basis working together on her photography business. I'd marry her again if I could. Eddy Santamarina is someone I might have introduced into the comic making world, but he’s become a monster by himself with his work on Hyper-Sense. Daily, he pushes and pulls me to stay focused and get better. Lastly, from afar, the hosts of the comiXology and Paperkeg podcasts have provided a lot of background noise that kept me smiling and focused on comics throughout the years. They didn’t let a saturated market of comic book podcasts stop them from trying either and they turned into my favorite ones.
I write this to you, dear reader, not for you to understand my struggle but to ask yourself if you have one in you. If there is something you always wanted to do or that you think eventually you’ll get to do, start doing it right now. Don't spend 10 years of your life on 24 pages like I just did. This day in our technological age, there’s no reason to not be able to have the resources, and connect with people, who can help you make it happen.
And if you read it, thanks for letting my last 10 years be a part of your last 10 mins.
Miami Lakes, FL