Monday, January 10, 2011

One for sorrow, two for joy

Just before Xmas day on the green in front of our house local kids built a snowman, a simple heart-warming thing to watch, especially since most kids round ere are usually face down drunk or out nicking cars.
It didn't have the classic hat, scarf and carrot nose, but nonetheless it was a grand effort, made in the freezing cold and double the size of it's sculptors.
More snow came, then the thaw, and slowly but surely he began to melt. The kids put up a brave fight trying to save him from his puddle-of-mush fate, but it was a lost cause.

2ND of January i found myself staring out the window at the lumpy remains; a sad sight enough, but it was underlined with the poignant appearance of a lone magpie, frantically circling it, cackling-rattling loudly.

That picture won't leave me.

however hard you try you can't halt the inevitable

Reading a few blogs of artist friends it seems for most that 2010 didn't come up to scratch; publishers went bunk, projects were scuppered, time ran out, people got sick and generally nobody had much fun.

Artists certainly don't have a monopoly on feeling bad/sorry for themselves, it's just that everything is magnified when you choose a creative path; negative reviews, poor sales, rejections, editors changing their minds; glitches and temporary setbacks that pile up and turn into overwhelming catastrophes.
Cus you can't help but take it personal, not when you've invested so much of yourself into the work.

The commitment and enforced isolation you need to earn a living freelancing - or simply get your work in print - isn't an easy choice; it can mean little or no social life, working ungodly hours, chasing jobs (and cheques), along with never having that 9-5 work environment where you can vent and communicate with colleagues on a daily basis, and neither can you come home and switch off with a martini and Eastenders.

You have to be contented in your own company, eternally optimistic and thick-skinned stubborn in your goals. Cus if you aren't it messes you up.
It can make you feel like yer losing your marbles.
Some of us do.

It's inevitable.

there can't be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full*

In 2010, the 'new, much improved Shane Oakley' never really turned up. I did start the year healthier and with some calming normality, but it didn't last.
I was trying to wipe out a godawful 2009 by multi-multi-tasking, finishing all the back-log jobs side by side, fast as i could. But the harder i worked the more difficult coping became. I couldn't get a decent nights sleep, hardly ate, always felt ill, and i got slower, not faster. Well, more accurately; i became obsessive and harshly critical of my work, over-analyzing/dissecting and re-doing it to death.
Things came to a head, and i lost mine.

So, i was left thinking if my comics career causes most of my woes, then surely if i eliminate the comics, I'll turn into a happy bunny who doesn't lie awake at 2 in the morning gritting his teeth.

buy new shoes, don't carpet the world

But to cut a very long story short, i realised it wasn't the fault of my career choice - but the way i went about it.
Art had became a chore, rather than a pleasure. Somewhere I'd lost the fun of it, and turned it into a set of daunting, agonising tasks.
And it really didn't help that I'd taken up gloomy introspection as my new hobby; day-to-day counting up the mistakes, regrets, missed opportunities, etc.
Fruitless, negative and time-wasting, i know. But when you're stuck, you're stuck.

if god gives you lemons

But the drawing is a solution, not the problem.
It's a refuge from/a weapon against the stupid shit that you have to deal with - it's tonic for the soul.
With pen and paper you can spin gold from nothing, and that makes you more than ordinary.
A simple truth, but one I'd lost sight off, and it's only a few close to me who helped put it back in focus.

I'm not gonna shout Hallelujah! all over the place exclaiming some overnight miraculous change. I've had a small but significant epiphany that's making my days brighter and better. I still have to build up more resilience, make wiser decisions, and above all; focus on the good stuff.

Art, life or otherwise.

ready for my close up mr demille

It's not very altruistic, but from now on I'm gonna be a greedy and brutal bastard with my time. I wasted too much last year in front of this PC, time i didn't have, time given helping others climb up the ladder(even when i needed a leg-up myself) , some that didn't think to thank me for the effort.
I've done my bit for karma points, thank you(and no, i don't want rewards or a sainthood, but good manners go a long way).

And looking back i also spent far too much time pushing and developing new projects, chasing flaky writers and absent-minded, non-committal editors about pitches/scripts and contracts - and i mean an OBSCENE amount of time writing e-mails, e-mails that have mostly led to nothing other than annoyance and dead ends.
That all stops as of today.

Time is passing by and I need all the time i can get.
I'm taking 2011 by the throat and balls, won't let go till I'm the boss. It will be a year worth celebrating, for many reasons.

And damn me if it isn't!

now, how bout some pictures?

...a carefully selected panel-sampling from The Haunter of the Dark, adapted by Dan Lockwood for The Lovecraft Anthology- Volume 1, coming from Self Made Hero in May.
Had a tough time getting it done but hell it was worth it.

here's to building snowmen!

*Thank you Henry Kissinger.


Roland MacDonald said...

All the best for 2011. The Lovecraft looks great.

Neil D Vokes said...

Well I for one am very glad to "meet" the 2011 Shane- tho I was quite fond of the Shane of last year,it's a joy to see that he has taken a step or two into the next chapter of his very talented life- I really loved this post,mate and it shows a man ready to boldly go where no artist worth his stones can avoid going: AHEAD (and I am always here if you need any advice,pats on the back,shared bitchin' or just plain chat)...;o)

PS- I am also now the proud owner of several top notch pieces of artwork by the aforementioned fellow- beautiful-as expected-and most,most welcome in my collection- thanks,mate and Happy New Shane!

Jeff Lester said...


As always, I remain in awe of your candor, your talent, and your commitment.

Hang in there and I hope you have a stronger 2011. I look forward to seeing where the work takes you.

paulhd said...

Ouch, that mirrors my '10.
Good to hear that you're turning a corner, and that's some stunning art, that's gonna be a hell of a collection.

Ade Salmon said...

I hope to hell this year is a better one for all of us - 2010 was tough. Great art man on Lovecraft - I'd love to have a crack at 'ol HP myself one of these days.

all the best


Mark Buckingham said...

That was an amazingly open and honest post Shane. I know you really had a tough 2010 and it is wondeful to see you so positive to make a difference in this new year. I can't wait to see what magic you can create for us all to enjoy in the months ahead.
I'm proud of you mate.

Mark Buckingham said...

... and the new pictures all look fabulous by the way!

Curt Purcell said...

You're an amazing artist, Shane, and here's hoping 2011 is the year you Break Out Big!!! You've shown me nothing but generosity, I'm afraid I didn't repay it quite in kind (though no ill will was meant in any way)--I'm sorry for that, hope it's bygones, and wish you nothing but the best! I look forward to reading many more comics with your gorgeously moody art!

shane oakley said...

roland - and all the best to you, hope SEXTON BLAKE knocks socks off!

neil - thankyou, thankyou, mate. i'm touched.
you're one of the good guys who helped talk a little sense into my sorry skull, and your work and attitude is an inspiration.
i salute you, fine sir!

so glad you dug them artworks, next time i'll send by pony express - you may get em quicker!

jeff - your well wishes mean a lot, thankyou.

am aiming to stop hanging and start swinging!

paul - yeah, was one of your blogs i read on my 'disappointing 2010 digital tour', but it seems like you've got some new found spirit yerself, you certainly deserve a break.

the lovecraft book will be one handsome beast, what with ian culbard and d'israeli strutting their stuff.

ade - cheers!
after what you did on THE FACELESS, i can't think of anything more natural than you doing some creepy h.p.
they are doing another volume...

bucky - y know me, i have this bad habit of wanting to speak the truth.

i owe you a dozen manly hugs for the sweet words and the concern/support you've given me.

...forever a dear friend and GREAT role model.

curt - bygones be bygones? you sonofabitch, i should have you hogtied and sodomised by diseased rednecks then buried alive in a ditch.


i have NO ill feeling towards my favourite groover, we just had a breakdown of communication.
i'd still like us to jam somewhere along the way, for sure.
drop me a line.

...and thankyou for the praise - all fuel for the fight!
best to y!

Alexander Finbow said...

Great words Shane and welcome to the land of opportunity that 2011 has ushered in. Loving the Lovecraft, and here's to it being an extremely successful book!

Gary Crutchley said...

Good to read such positiveness, mate. I look forward to seeing all you do and if'n you need any assists, in any way, then you no where I be.
Lets meet up soon fer coffee and cake.
Crackin' images as well.
You is one talented bastid, and don't let anyone say otherwise.

shane oakley said...

alexander - you are a saint and a gent.

readers! have i not got THE nicest editor in the cosmos?

gary - i can't stop some saying otherwise, but i promise if they dare say it to my face i'll punch em in the teeth!

thanx, mate. see you soon.

John Reppion said...

Bloody Hell! The Haunter pages look AMAZING! Honestly, the very best stuff I've ever seen from you mate. Can't wait to read the whole thing.

Hope 2011 is shaping up nicely thus far and hop our paths cross again soon.


John (& Leah)

Unknown said...

Oh man, these pages are amazing!! I can not wait for this.

I am in awe of your work.So glad we didn't lose a massive talent like you to the frustrations of the industry. ( and after a coupe of years in "frustrations" is putting it mildly)

Rob Davis said...

That's a big raw ol' blog post mate and some rip roarin' art to follow. I sympathise with much of what you're saying, watching a few parts of my own life slip through my fingers whilst I'm stuck in front of my mac.

Can't wait to see this Lovecraft anthology, v excited. I'm only writing in this one, but Ian Culbard's drawn the story I wrote and I'm happy as hell with it.

We're launching it at Bristol, any chance you'll make it down? Be good to chat over a pint.

Andy Bloor said...

Great post Shane, sums up a lot of what us frustrated creatives think and do... stunning artwork as always though. Here's hoping you a postive 2011 and maybe a meet up with you and Gary on the cards too?

shane oakley said...

john(and leah) - hello strangers!
many thanx.
i really did go for it with HOTD and feel alarmingly good and satisfied - though not smug! - with the end results.
but it's lovecraft, and if he's yer bag, it's hard go wrong.

do hope we bump into each other sooner rather than later.

eric - thankyou. if this biz ain't killed me yet it never will!

rob - much excited to see what you and ian have done - no doubt startling.
i'd love to make it down to bristol, ain't bin a show for years. if i do, that first pint is on me.

andy - the year is already looking shiny and full-of-promise and my head is screwed on tighter than ever.
i'm looking to be busy making comics but also letting of steam on a regular basis; so sides stock car smash up, primal scream therapy and bare knuckle fighting, i think a night of beer and curry in good company is a must!

David said...

What a fantastic peice, Shane...and it totally mirrors the way I'm thinking too. My stuff is done now, but I shan't be doing it again, as you say, this line of work is a terrific soaker of time and effort, and with little reward at the end it really does make you think---do I really want to do this? I've been messing about 20odd years trying get into the comics arena, still hasn't happened, so yeah 2011 will be different. Beautiful work as usual, love the redesign:)

盛豐 said...