Where the Hell Have I Been & Where the Hell Am I Going?

Let me start by saying, I meant to do more of these. I've loved writing this column, and I've been blown away by the response it's gotten. I meant to do more, but unfortunately it just didn't happen. It's been a busy year. By my count, I've had 55 comics published in 2011, which is way more than I've ever had in a single year before (so surely at least 10 of them were decent). As the year comes to a close, I've got 5 different series coming out on a monthly basis. Though, as we enter 2012, that will all be changing dramatically.

2012 will be a year of transition for me, in a lot of ways. My stints on three of my longest running series will be coming to an end. My final issue of "PunisherMAX" is already written, and I must say I'm as proud of that run as I am of anything I've ever done. Most especially the fact that the same creative team of artist Steve Dillon, cover artist Dave Johnson and colorist Matt Hollingsworth was willing to stay together through thick and thin, and through a fair number of sacrifices, for the entire run. Cheers to them. I'm almost done writing my final arc on "Wolverine," a character whose solo adventures I've been writing for literally the entire time I've been in comics. I did my first Wolvie story in 2002, as a Marvel Talent Search winner, and by the time my final issue is published next year, I'll have penned a little more than 50 issues of Wolverine solo action, spread across 10 years, four different ongoing series, various miniseries and one-shots.

And then there's "Scalped," the Native American crime series I co-created for Vertigo with artist R.M. Guera, which will be wrapping up in 2012 after 60 issues. It's really not an understatement to say that I have a comic career today in large part because of "Scalped." Even though my first published work was for Marvel, it still took me doing "Scalped" for Marvel to really take notice and start setting me up with bigger gigs. When people ask me how long I've been writing comics for a living, I think of the age of my youngest son. He's six. I quit my last day job when he was born. "Scalped" had been green lit just a few months before. My son is also named Dash, just like the book's main character. "Scalped" has been intertwined in my life in a variety of ways over the last several years, and I still can't believe it's finally coming to an end.

So, just a few months into 2012, I'll go from writing five series to only two -- "Wolverine and the X-Men" and "The Incredible Hulk," both of which launched in October. Though there is also the little matter of "Avengers Vs. X-Men," a rather mammoth twelve issues series of which I'm one of five writers. And perhaps a couple new projects after that. Including at least one other creator-owned book. Like I said, it'll be a year of transition. It'll be surreal to say goodbye to some of the series I've worked on for so long, "Scalped" in particular. But I'm also excited to finally bring those stories to some sort of crescendo and hopefully send them all out on a good note, and then continue to explore new territory with the X-Men and Hulk and whatever else comes my way.

Again, I wish I could've had more time for this column, but for the most part I'm happy with what I was able to write. And I've been thrilled to hear that it's been somewhat of a help to at least some of you out there. To everyone who's followed this column, I offer you my sincerest thanks, and also a word of warning: I've written columns about my views on the industry, how I broke in, how I've tried to manage the business end of things, how I've tried to write, how I feel about certain bearded gentlemen of note. Take all of that with a grain of salt. Use it however you like, but for most of those questions and problems, you'll have to find your own answers, and they might prove to be very different from mine. If I helped you in any way to build some sort of roadmap for your journey to fully-functioning comic-bookery nirvana, then consider me extremely gratified. To all of you who are out there trying every day to claw your way into the comic industry, I say keep it up. Comics needs new blood. Now more than ever. Just make sure when you get your shot, that you bring your best to the table. Make those first few punches count, and the rest will only get easier as you go along. I swear.

Write like this is the only chance you'll ever get to tell your story. Write out of your comfort zone. Write to challenge and surprise yourself. Write like you have everything to prove, even when you don't. Especially when you don't. Write with heart. Write with passion. Write as often as you possibly can.

I look forward to reading your column someday.

Now excuse me, but I have writing of my own to do.

If anybody needs me for the foreseeable future, that's where the hell I'll be.

Happy New Year.

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