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Recharging the Batteries

| July 25, 2011 | 3 Comments

It’s often said that there is no one way to break into a career in comics. And as the joke goes, breaking into comics is like breaking out of jail- once one person finds a way to break in, that way is sealed up, and no one else can do it the same way.

I’ve never bought into that, however.

While the specifics of one’s journey to a career in comics will obviously always be unique to that individual, there are plenty of common elements in the stories of those who are successful.  There isn’t a single creator I respect who stumbled onto their career. Rather, they’re all people who have worked very hard to become undeniably good at what they do.

Hard work is never not a part of success.  But sometimes, we all need to recharge the old batteries.

I’m typing this at the end of a solid nine days of vacation.  I spent the bulk of the week at my family’s lake house, which I’ve been going to every summer (except one) for the past 32 years.  On the agenda for the week: A whole hell of a lot of nothing much.

And it was glorious.

I had the chance to remember just how rejuvenating the little things are:

  • Floating on a raft in the middle of a lake on a hot summer day.
  • Getting a sunburn.
  • Playing Clue.  (It was that sultry vixen Miss Scarlet, with the wrench, in the study.)
  • Making perfect S’mores around a campfire.
  • Watching fireworks.
  • Reading some great comics.  I can highly recommend: The Red Wing (Hickman and Piterra), Flashpoint (Johns and Kubert), Flashpoint Batman Knight of Vengeance (Azzarello and Rizzo), Captain America #1 (Brubaker and McNiven), Chew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice (Layman and Guillory.)
  • Belly laughs with loved ones.

Of course, I brought along material to do some comic work, and got a little bit of writing done.  Not too much, though.

And much like last year’s vacation, where I jotted down a page worth of ideas for what was to become The Red Ten (a book that will be out this fall!), I worked on fleshing out something new.  But, for the most part, it was a week of relaxing, playing, and reconnecting with loved ones.

Sometimes taking a break is tough, though.  If you’re like me, your to-do list is never ending.

When you’re trying to build a career as a story-teller, there’s always something more you can be doing: a next chapter to write, research to conduct, books to read, characters to sketch, websites to revamp, Tweets to send, and so on. Just stopping, even for a week, can feel like you’re getting behind.

However, herein lies one of the benefits of collaborating with so many brilliant creators.

While I was on vacation, my teammates kept the engines running on a wide variety of projects.  I brought along my iPad, which allowed me to keep tabs on what was going on, comment briefly where necessary, or move files from one Dropbox folder to another for work to progress.  And let me tell you, it was great to be able to kick my feet up at the lake and see work pouring in from:

Matt Zolman (@MattZolman) – Working hard on the second half of EPIC #1, and this week focusing on some layout concepts for the special New York Comic Con variant.  This is going to be a HOT book!

Koko Amboro (@KokoAmboro) – Who hit my inbox with four brilliant, insanely detailed new Tears of the Dragon pages.  The website starts updating again on August 2, and these pages are going to turn a lot of heads.

Cesar Feliciano (@CesarFeliciano) – Who finished up a killer double page spread for the first issue of The Red Ten, which features the entire cast of characters for the first time.

Miguel Marques – Who’s been doing such an incredible job coloring Tears of the Dragon that I’ve asked to do the coloring honors on The Red Ten #1.  Ever the workhorse, Miguel cranked out the first four pages of TRT in a couple days.

Steven Forbes and John Lees – Who kept ComixTribe running smoothly in my absence.

Additionally, I was able to field some commission requests for ComiCONN (August 27, Stamford CT) and respond to a few emails.  But overall, it was heartening to know that I could take a week off and trust that the professionals I’ve surrounded myself with would keep our projects moving forward.

So, here I am, back at the computer.  These next four months are going to be HUGE for myself and ComixTribe.  We’re launching as many as five new books before the year ends!  New York Comic Con is going to be a huge undertaking, and more on that to follow shortly.  I have scripts to write, books to produce, and events to organize, and once again, the to-do list is a mile long.

But thanks to my vacation, my batteries are recharged, there’s a smile on my face, and I’m ready to get back to it!

What about you?  Have you been able to carve out some time this summer to recharge?  Do you feel pressure to always be working?  Let me know in the comments section.


Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, and educator residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and Tears of the Dragon, a swords and sorcery fantasy, and writer of the upcoming superhero murder mystery mini-series THE RED TEN. His past work includes OVER, a romantic comedy graphic novel, and Super Seed, the story of the world’s first super powered fertility clinic. His work has been published by DC and Arcana comics.

Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, a new website empowering creators to help each other make better comics.

Contact Tyler via email (, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or check him out on Facebook

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at

Comments (3)

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  1. Oh how I envy you! I don’t get any time off until the end of August! Til then, evenings and weekends are all I have and those can get busy really quick!

    Though I’ll admit I feel like I actually have MORE time on my hands now that I’ve adopted a more disciplined approach to my writing. Every day, I’m now able to crank out at least a page of comic, read a chapter in a reference book, get some factual research done and enjoy a good novel. Needless to say I can’t wait for my vacation to see what I can accomplish without having to go to work! See how I twist everything I touch? I’m talking about working now instead of resting!

    Anyway, I’m glad you had such a great time, Tyler, and that you were able to “fill up the tank”. Welcome back home!

  2. Jules Rivera says:

    I just took a few days off for San Diego Comic Con, but that’s more draining than anything. I managed to meet a few new talented artists and catch up with a couple old friends, but I’m not exactly feeling refreshed.

    In fact, if luck is on my side, Comic Con will only mean more job opportunities for me. Vacations? What’s that?

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