Saturday 28 December 2019

Reflecting on 2019

Pals and places from 2019. Click to see larger picture.
I must admit, 2019 hasn't been a great year financially. One of my worst, in fact. The year started badly when Toxic went reprint with no warning and Epic was cancelled, suddenly leaving me with just one mini-strip a month. (Bless Doctor Who Magazine for continuing to run my Daft Dimension strip.) Bits of other work came along but I've mainly been living off my savings this year. When I was younger that wasn't a position I expected to be in for my 60th year especially now friends my own age have retired on a healthy pension pot. 

But... the comics business is a roller coaster, and as some have said to me, if I wanted a proper salary I should have got a "proper job". (Not that I'm qualified to do anything else.) I've been in this business full time since 1984 and I've always known the score, so I'm not looking for sympathy. There are friends who have had worse years than me and I hope their times improve soon. 

I've never been one to blame others for any of my failings in business or in my personal life. In the comics industry you have to adapt to survive. There's no "conspiracy" to stop you working, and no one is plotting to prevent you getting invites to cons as some claim. If you're a long-established professional and things aren't going well it's either because there simply isn't the amount of work to share out that there used to be, or you're not hitting the right notes for new editors to see the potential in your work. There's not much you can do about the former, but you can focus on improving the latter. I'm starting with ending my Blimey! blog to give me more time to focus on my career. (This blog will continue though!) 

I was grateful for the new material that I was commissioned for this year. Working on the Cor!! Buster Humour Special for Rebellion was a complete joy, and I'm drawing another three pager for next year's Easter Special, again written by John Freeman. 

I usually write my own material as you know and it was great to do a new Felix and his Amazing Underpants page for Viz last Spring and I hope to produce more in 2020. (Although these days there are a lot more contributors to the comic than there used to be so the material has to be top notch.)

I've recently completed eight Postman Prat pages, eight Keyhole Kate mini-strips, and two activity pages for The Dandy Annual 2021 that will be in the shops in August 2020, along with four Lord Snooty mini-strips for The Beano Annual 2021

I enjoyed doing some one-offs too, such as the Maurice the Cat page for TechnoFreak No.2, a page for the Dwayne Hickenbottom collection,  the Liver Birds strip written by Tim Quinn for his new comic (more on that soon), and a couple of strips for companies outside of comics. 

Combat Colin winning the Comic Scene Award for Best Independent / Small Press Comic was a highlight. I never expected it to be nominated, let alone win, so that made my Christmas. Thanks again to all of you who voted for it. Yes, the awards logo will be proudly displayed on the cover of the next issue, which I hope to publish before the Spring.

A big thank you to all the comic con organisers for inviting me to their events, and to everyone who stopped by my table. These shows give me a real boost and it's a pleasure to visit various places to meet the readers and hang out with my comics pals.

Thanks to those of you who bought original artwork from me. I'll be putting more up for sale next year.

Most of all though, a huge thank you to all my friends in the industry and in my "civilian" life for being great mates. A big shout out to my local friends for organising a surprise 60th birthday party back in March. As I have no family I value the company of friends and the laughs we have. 

As for 2020.... it's starting well with a very busy January coming up! Drawing the new Buster and Delbert strip for the Cor!! Buster Easter Special, continuing with Doctor Who Magazine, and hopefully a project for a company outside of comics. Pup Parade will be ending in February but there'll be something new from me in the Beano at the start of March! I'll reveal what it is around that time. I hope the rest of the year will continue to be busy. If not... well, that doesn't bear thinking about yet. This is definitely going to be a sink or swim situation for 2020. 

May I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year and thank you for following this blog and your interest in my work. Onwards and upwards for us all, hopefully! 



Peter Gray said...

Glad you've got work for the Beano annual and Pup Parade will lead to a new strip so that is good news...
love your Doctor who strip and hopefully collected books oneday...all the est for new projects and work you don't even know aboout yet...
You'll a real trooper..
Happy New Year,,

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Peter. It's going to be a tough year but hopefully I'll still be here this time next year.

Kal said...

Maybe consider supplementing your income with the occasional commission?

Dunno about anyone else, but I'd be chucking money at you.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I will be doing that next year for sure. Everyone else seems to do it so why not. I'll post here when I have time to accept commissions. After January probably.

Robert P. said...

You can see you've physically aged badly in 12 months Lou!

Anonymous said...

I’d love to see your Blimey blog continue. Have you considered Patreon? I’m sure a fair few of us would pay.

Lew Stringer said...

That would throw up legal issues about copyright then anon, because I'd be accepting payment to publish scans of old comic pages. Companies are usually ok with non profit making blogs as long as we don't reproduce the entire comic, but accepting money for it would be a different matter.

SID said...

I hope that your fortunes pick up in the new decade. I do understand as a few years' ago I was made redundant and only my savings got me through until I went self-employed.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Sid. Hope you have a great 2020s.

--- said...

If this year is the end for you thanks for all the stories and hope you don't do anything rash.

CHARLIE X said...

Who knew how life would change in 2020?? Thank you for the comic strips over the years Lew. God bless. I will raise a glass to your memory tonight.