After San Diego: My New Year’s Resolutions

It occurs to me that, in the world of comic books, San Diego Comic-Con International is the big moment in comics for the year. Everything that really matters to most companies happens there, and the important books for the year are all announced and the upcoming year is laid in front of us. When it’s over, you feel like you’ve run the gauntlet. The convention season is long and hard. And after San Diego, sure there are a couple of conventions, but no one’s saving any big news for reveal at the Baltimore Comic-Con (and frankly, after The Wire, I’m not sure I want to go down there anyway). The whole thing is a bit like the end of the holiday season, and when you come out of the other side, it’s a new year in comics. In the spirit of that, I’ve decided to share some of my comic book resolutions for the upcoming year.

1) Respect the artist.

I am a fan of the writer. Anyone who’s listened to me on the shows, or read anything I’ve written knows that. But, here’s the thing. Any old clod with a keyboard can write comic books. We’ve all read enough bad comics to know that those people slip through, and a bad writer is so subjective that sometimes, they can keep doing it for years. But a bad artist? Even the worst artists working in comics could draw circles around me. Being a penciler is a skill that you either have or you don’t. You can develop it, sure, but if you can’t do it, you’re not going to teach yourself to draw like Darwyn Cooke or Steve McNiven. Drawing well, and more specifically drawing comics well is a beautiful confluence of natural talent and disciplined skill. I might get a book, and go on the podcast, and say, “I don’t like so and so’s art,” but if I could draw as well as even the worst guys in comics, I’d be a happy man. To that end, next year, I plan to have more conversations with artists when we hit the convention circuit, and maybe do a couple special edition podcasts with some guys who put pencil to page.

2) Work to find comics I love.

It’s as if I’m constantly surrounded by comics that I like, but nothing compares to the feeling of reading comics you love. But, again, as things get busy, you take what you can get, and I try to read a lot, but you can only read so much, and to get my head around all the great comics that are out there would be one hell of an achievement. I don’t think I’ve given enough attention to Slave Labor Graphics, or Drawn and Quarterly, or even Top Shelf for that matter. I’ve got a stack of books I don’t have time to read, but it’s funny because I feel like I’m not reading enough comics. Isn’t that just strange? Still, it’s a better problem to have too many good comics than not enough. Make sure you all keep those suggestions coming.

3) Make comics.

It’s been mentioned many times that I want to write comics. This is true. However, over the craziness of the last year (and it has been crazy), I’ve done very little writing of that sort. I have a book I’ve been pitching, and will pitch further, and my collaborator, one of the aforementioned and respected artists, has just finished with the inking to the 22nd and final page of the first issue. There is a script written for the second issue. The first and second issues were written approximately 7 years apart. That’s not really the best track record for a profession in which the number one mentioned advice is “write all the damn time.” But life gets in the way, and excuses are easier than ever to pluck from the ether. I’ve many thoughts in my head. None are as formed, or coherent as I’d like them to be, but there’s something there, and if I don’t do something about it, they’ll very likely just die there. Of course, the big problem is that, as I mentioned, I don’t draw, and I’m pretty much busy all the time, just doing this and living what little of my non-iFanboy life is left. If you want it, you have to commit, and go for it. I haven’t done that. Yet, with a completed issue in my hand, that’s something. I can wait for those rejection letters to come pouring in. But I’ve also get to get some other irons in the fire. I’ve met a few artists here and there, but I get picky, and tend not to see my writing in their style. But sometimes, you gotta just go with it. Procrastination is just a form of fear, and if you’re making excuses, or putting something off, you’re really just afraid of failure. Imagine how many great comics were never made because the folks with the stories in them didn’t get off their duffs and make it happen. I don’t want to be that guy. Come San Diego next year, I want to say that I will have tried much harder than I have in the past.

So those are some things I need to focus on in the New Year. Now that we’re through the convention looking glass, let’s make a clean start of things.

Oh, there’s one thing I forgot, and please forgive me if this sounds like pandering, but it’s 100% sincere. I promise, to the best of my ability to continue to work to make this the best place on the internet for comic book readers with a love of the medium and a good sense of humor. We’re always striving to make things better, and we’ll keep on keepin’ on as long as we can.



  1. Josh, number 3 is awesome.  Getting ideas out of your head and onto the page is such a huge thing, and congratulations on such a big step. 

    Best luck.

  2. Number 1 is one i have to remember to do as well because i have no drawing skill but i do find myself saying "i just dont like this person etc. As for #3 congrats on getting a first issue finished Whats the premise? I’ve been asked by friends if i’ve ever considered trying to write a book to which i answer while the idea is appealing I personally dont think i’m that good of a writer. Keep it up.

  3. For number 3, in the immortal words of Rocky Balboa in Rocky 3, "Go for it."

  4. Best of luck with all of your plans, but especially with number 3.  I have a huge amount of respect for people, and especially critics, who go out there and try to produce work of their own.  And if nothing else, you’ll have the iFanboy community as your personal cheerleading squad as you make your efforts.

  5. Great article and ideas, but I must take offense to the knock on Baltimore. Yes, there are bad areas of the city – name me one big American city where there isn’t criime, drugs and homelessness? Where the Baltimore con is held, however, is one of the nicest areas of any city I’ve seen. You have Camden Yards, Ravens stadium, the Geppi museums, Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Aquarium and several sports bars, restaurants, upscale hotels and small businesses all within walking distance (and not big-city walking distance, either). To be scared of coming to a place because of what you saw on television or in movies is unfair – artists will portray something how they want to portray it, and if it fits their story to have Baltimore (or NY or LA) be the drug-riddled murder capital of the east coast, they will.

    And don’t underestimate the Baltimore con – it remains one of the largest comics-centric (re: NO HOLLYWOOD BS) shows in the country, and just keeps growing every year. If you doubt this fact, check out this year’s guest list. 

  6. @Dan  Yeah, I didn’t reply to that because I know it was a joke (and I also love "The Wire") but Baltimore is a great place to visit.  The only difference between B’more a dozen other American cities is that it’s had such talented people do such an honest job of documenting the problems.

    And the con guest list looks great.  It’s only a few hours away; I’m tempted. 


  7. Great resolutions, man. I, too, am weeks away from making my first pitch (weeks because I want to get plenty of material done). Good luck!

  8. My pitch is sitting in the Image slush pile as we speak.  You currently have more than enough done to submit it.  Slap that sucker in the mail and write a premise and an arc outline for a new comic while you’re waiting to hear.

    As to getting the "right" artist for your work.  Certainly Sean Philips fits Ed Brubaker’s writing in Criminal but what if he were paired with Tony Harris or Joe Kubert or Mike Mignola or Michael Avon Oeming?  Each of those artist would give it a different feel but I contend each would probably be awesome.  I say cast your net wider. Or even better, write some ideas in different genres.  A Flanagan story won’t be determined by subject matter but by your storytelling.  


  9. Man, I wish there was an edit feature.   Of course I meant you have more than enough done to submit your comic to any number of publishers.

     And the idea of writing stories in different genres and tones is to have "just the right idea" that might fit any type of artist you see.

  10. 1) I am definitely looking forward to any comic you self-publish or get published, and I think it is exciting that you are doing this.  In fact, I think the whole iFanboy thing is a model to lots of people to get out there and do it, and not just talk about it.  You guys had a love for something, put the site together, the podcast, and man this thing has done nothing but grow–seriously, way to go, and don’t stop.

    2) As a Maryland resident, give us a bit of iFanboy love.   Dan is right.  If you come to Baltimore CC, you will find a very nice/tourist friendly part of the city, and a ton of people who love comics.  Also, the lines are not nearly as long as they are for things in NY and SD.  Or if not, I know a few Baltimore longshoremem, who work the harbor who might need to pay a visit to Brooklyn…

    Just kidding, but would love to see you, Ron, and/or Conorin Baltimore.

  11. Whoa!  WHoa!  Why are you sending the Longshoremen after me?!

  12. @ohcaroline (and Josh by proxy) – I get jokes. I dig the funny.

    And I highly recommend the con if you can make it. Like I’ve said elsewhere around here, it’s my only show of the year and I always have a great time.

    I’m done shilling for the con – I feel like such a ho. 

  13. I made my way through Artist’s Alley for the first time this year, really taking my time, and I met a lot of really nice people with some incredible talents. I even splurged on some original inked art from an old Robin issue, and I don’t even LIKE Robin.

    "Procrastination is just a form of fear." I like that. And it is especially true about writers.

    Good stuff, as usual.

  14. Listen, if I wasn’t completely sick through to the bone of going to comic conventions, and gas wasn’t $47/gallon, I’d totally go down to Baltimore Con.  There’s a great lineup, and I’m sure we could do a hell of a show there.

    Jeez, you can’t tease anyone can you?


  15. You can’t tease Baltimore.  It has an inferiority complex.


  16. Hey man, I can’t wait to read your stuff.  Self publish once the first issue is completely done.  Think the ifanbase won’t buy it? 


    You show you can sell hundreds if not thousands of issues and you’ll get attention from publishers. 

  17. those are great resolutions man, the amount of output you all do on just the site is impressive enough so don’t beat yourself up too much there. 

  18. Ah, the much fabled Josh Flanagan comic. As many have already said, go for it dude! I know I’d love to read it, and I’d pick it up straight away. In fact, I’d say you have a pretty decent starting audience for it right here 😉

    I agree with Kimbo, you guys already work tirelessly on this site, and it’s easily already the best comic site on the web. We’re spoiled for riches and decent folks as it is. 

  19. When I think of Josh writing a comic, it makes me want to learn how to draw. Not a joke! Not an imaginary story!

    (Do you think you reach a certain stage in your brain’s development where you can’t cultivate skills like that anymore? Can an old dog learn new tricks?)

    I can only imagine the sinking feeling you get when you’re mayor of Baltimore and find out someone is doing a show about your town. "Awesome! What’s it called?" "’Homicide’!" "Uhhhh-oh."

  20. And then you think said show is behind you and they do another show, and you think, "this time…this time we’ll get a fair shake."

    And that show was called the Wire.

  21. Josh, there is no reason to be hestitant to go to Baltimore, after all Marlo is still a free man last we heard and by the way that you pump those red tops…possible new career…?

  22. For every Homicide or The Wire, you have a Pink Flamingos, Pecker or Serial Mom.

    Guess that didn’t help my case after all.

    We did get blown up in Sum of All Fears, though.

    And there was $15.67 worth of damage.

    Thank you, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses. Good night.

  23. "…and tend not to see my writing in their style."

     This got me to thinking and I really believe that any artist that is really trying to make it should be able to adapt their art to what the story calls for. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean sacrificing your artistic integrity just to make it. It’s more like bending your style. Honestly, I didn’t naturally tend to draw like I did on Low Level before I started the book. I read the script, I talked to Josh about the characters/settings/attitude and mood of the book, then I kind of tweaked the way I draw to match. It’s not a new style, just an alteration. Most of it consists of how I drew before. Ironically, the way I naturally draw now has taken on many of the traits that were added. I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t necessarily count an artist out if he/she has the drive to make. An artist that really wants it will be flexible.

     Oh, yeah. Just as a disclaimer: I was, by no means, trying to say that I’m some great artist or something, because I’m not (yet). This is the first book that I’ve successfully completed. I just referenced the situation because it’s something that I’ve experienced first-hand and thought about a lot. 

  24. Hey, we’ve got Diner, right?  And Blair Witch?

    Actually, I live much closer to DC (Wedding Crashers!), but the DC Con sucks, and Baltimore is pretty good.  OK, enough pimping for the con.

    Josh turn out that comic!

  25. Just put it under the Ifanboy label. Hell if you can have shirt then you can publish a comic. Out of all the ifanboys on this site; you are the only person I can see write a comic. Your funny, so if it is a comedy book then I would definitely want to pick it up. Hey from all of these comments you got a good 30-40 people buying your first issue…That’s a profit of, what(?), 80 bucks? Not a bad start; I’m sure bigger names have started off worse.

    Oh and if your afraid of Baltimore for some reason….Just remember that it’s home of Edgar Allen Poe and John Walters. Ah, the legends that people will remember forever.

  26. Nice resolutions, Josh.  @Jimski – If you have the passion and can make a commitment to it, I don’t think there’s a set age where you can’t pick up a new skill. Drawing is hard. But fun. I’ve recently  been flexing my artistic skills again, after many years of atrophy. Actually, there are things that I’m doing now hat are better thn when I used to draw, o those many years ago.

  27. Josh, if you’re book ever gets picked up.  I’ll be in line.  That cover is sick!

     I also tend to put artist’s on the backburner.  I’ve started to feel bad that I don’t respect them in the same way that I respect artists.  I’m glad someone else said it before I did.  It’ll make it all the easier to start throwin’ out the respect.

  28. J.A., welcome to the world of writing.  Procrastinating is a tough thing to stop, but as a form of perfectionism and fear it is important to do so.  I look forward to the first non rejection letter.

  29. I’d honestly love to read a comic written by Josh Flanagan. And that alone should be a good amount of inspiration.

    I myself have written a six issue arc of my own creation (took me little over a year), but I’ve yet to find an actual artist that would dedicate themselves to drawing the whole thing. I’ve been working on my skills but its tough trying to become a good artist and writer while your working and doing school.  

    Just saying, I believe in your Josh Flanagan, that cover that you have up there gives me chills, and I’d love to hold it in my hand some day. 

  30. I too, wanted to be a comic book writer, until I realised you need to be smart, talented & skilled. So, I let the dream die with my earlier ones of being a cowboy & a ninja.

    My comic book resolutions would be the same as Josh’s #2 (hehe) — Read more comics I love, and less mediocre ones. I’d like to read less comics, and just read "the good ones" but,unless you can see into the future, it’s hard to know if a book is good before you read it, so you usually end up reading a lot of crap, while you’re "chasing the comic dragon".

  31. im with #2 because i find myself getting comics that i kind of drop. so im completley down with 2. i want GREAT ones i can keep reading and never tire of and a few titles actually hit this spot.

    great article mr flanagan

  32. Hey Josh! I highly suggest listening to the Martini Shot podcast from KCRW (if you haven’t already). Yeah, it’s about (television) writing in Hollywood, but I think there are some similarities you’d appreciate. And the episodes are less than four minutes long.

    When your book’s finally on sale, I know I’ll be buyin’ it.