Updated: May 7th, 2013

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11.10.2013 @ 3:11 pm - More to say about Joey…

I was asked to contribute his obituary for The Comics Journal. This is what I wrote:

In the wake of Joey Manley’s passing, I was asked to contribute to one of his obituaries. This is what I have to say:

Joey Manley changed the face of not only webcomics, but all of comics. He gave so many young, talented, yet previously unknown creators a chance and a voice in what has always been a difficult and sometimes hostile industry. He put a professional face on webcomics at a time when they were laughed at by the mainstream comics scene. He stood up for us. He had the vision to see that not only was there a place for webcomics as equal players in the industry, but that creators themselves could earn a living doing them. In 2002 it was radical idea. Now it’s been emulated by the mainstream publishers.

Many of us owe our careers to him. The list of creators who went on to make their mark after participating in ModernTales, serializer.net, Girlamatic, Graphic Smash, and later even WebcomicsNation is staggering. Without his encouragement, we may have never seen the work of luminary creators like Gene Yang or Raina Telgemeier.

But more than that, he brought all of us together in a time when we thought we were alone in an unfriendly, uninterested world. We’ve made lifelong friendships and working relationships because he introduced us, put us on a mailing list, and got us to fly out from all corners of the country (and beyond!) to meet at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2002. That was the moment that changed us from wannabes into professionals.

Maybe we could have done it without him, but I doubt it. Joey gave us hope. He helped us become who we were meant to be and kept cheering us on, even after we left his stable.

Joey Manley was a great man who changed not only comics, but us. His life may have ended abruptly and far too soon, but it had a profound effect on many of us. I am honored and grateful to be a part of that community.

Godspeed, Joey. Thanks for everything you did for us. We love you.

Here is all of us at SDCC 2002. How little we knew what was in store for us.

From left: Derek Kirk Kim, Joey Manley (front), Cat’s GF (sorry, i can’t remember her name), Cayetano Garza, Jim Zub (bottom) Jesse Hamm (far back), Chuck Whelon, my then-GF Stef (front), Lea Hernandez, Shaenon K. Garrity, myself, Andrew Farago. (Photo courtesy Jim Zub.)

11.09.2013 @ 1:47 pm - We’ll miss you, Joey Manley

I’m saddened at the unexpected news that my friend, comics visionary Joey Manley, passed away unexpectedly this week. Joey was the person who first gave me a chance as a professional comic creator when he first started ModernTales.com over a decade ago. Through him I was introduced to a vibrant comics scene and met so many great friends and colleagues. I will always be grateful to him for giving me that chance. He really did change my life.

My deepest condolences to his husband Joe Botts and both their families. He was a great man, and we will all miss him.

I am sad he left so soon, but I am so glad I had the chance to know him.

10.30.2013 @ 12:19 pm - Update.

Well, folks, I’m afraid I have to report indeed to go back into treatment for my neck. I went to see a neurologist on Monday, and I’ve been ordered to have a battery of tests to get to the root of the problem. So for a second time in 15 months I have to put my business on hold and stop production on both STRANGER and PS. I’ve try to manage this problem and continue to work, and I have failed.

This time, I’m not coming back to work until I’ve solved this problem for good. Rest assured, I’m going to try everything I can to correct the problem with both conventional and alternative medicine. While I’m sure many of you have great suggestions, please keep them to yourself for now. I’m going to have to develop a treatment regimen that works for me. That said, I’m reserving surgery as the VERY LAST option. If I can fix this using non-invasive means, I will.

In the meantime I’ll be continuing my physical routine of regular exercise, yoga, meditation, massage therapy and stress reduction to calm things down. I know stress is at the root of the problem, but i have to figure out how to untangle the mess before I return to work. Hopefully, I’ll have some better answers later this month.

As always, thanks for your unending patience.

10.25.2013 @ 11:22 am - Fixed?

I think we finally found the problem. For some reason the server’s disk space had maxed out, and it was screwing with the functioning of the website. Still not sure what caused the error, because the website only uses a small fraction of the server’s total space. I’m still awaiting a report from my provider, but overnight disk usage went from 98% to 10%, so clearly they found the root of the problem.

In any case, I’ll keep checking up on it to make sure it’s not acting up again. Sorry it was causing problems for you guys. It was a really frustrating mystery, and I’m glad the site appears to be fixed now.

Still going to be awhile before I start updating PS again. I haven’t had the most productive month in terms of art production for STRANGER. I’ve had to back off because of my neck. It’s pretty clear the root of the problem has to do with stress and anxiety (sound like any characters you know?), and I’m going to be seeing a neurologist soon to see if there can be anything else I can do about the problem. In the meantime, yoga, physical activity, and massage therapy seem to be prescription. Learning to relax into my work seems to be the key, but it’s hard to do. I’ve spent most of my adult life in high gear sprinting at my deadlines, and now my high gear has been eliminated because I lock up when I try to slip into that mode.

Right now I can tell you I’m accumulating some rich experiences that will undoubtedly come back into my writing at some point. Kate & Mike’s story has always paralleled my own life in many ways, and this will be no exception. Even choosing to have Kate be a werewolf wasn’t just a case of me thinking it was cool, but because it’s such as juicy metaphor for dealing with one’s internal stress and anxiety, quelling the beast inside. And Mike’s calm, Zen demeanor being the antidote. These are the forces I’ve always struggled with myself. Beneath that calm exterior, I often had this swirl of anxieties, anger, and frustration that I always fought to keep in check. Everyone does. In many ways, that’s what this story is about when you strip away all the tropes, adventure and nonsense.

Anyway, I’m now having to stop and face those fears and learn to cope with my own anxiety and response to stress. Like Kate, I’d been running away from it for quite some time, always feeling like I had a freight train bearing down on me, always trying to meet the next deadline, the next update, the next convention. And last year the freight train caught up with me. And I got flattened. My body rebelled, and now I have to learn to work without having to feel like I’m constant catching up to everything. It’s humbling, and a bit humiliating to admit that I wasn’t able to meet my own (admittedly, unrealistic) expectations. I have to thank God/The Universe/Luck that I have a supportive wife and family to take care of me while I work through this, because if I didn’t have them, I would be in a bad way right now. And thankfully, I am not.

I’m still working, but I’m having to change my relationship to my work, to my business, and to my comic. And it isn’t easy. I’m looking forward to getting back to PS, but it may take awhile. I’ve got a lot to work to do before I get there. But I will get there.

Thanks again to you all for your patience.