With Strongman 2 ticking along nicely toward its 2010 release date, and 27 hopefully in good hands, I think it's probably time that I get another project rolling, so that it can be slotted in amongst those titles (or directly after). What I want to avoid is a lengthy period of dead time between one release and the next. Ideally, I would like to have at least one major project out every year from now until... well, forever. I have ideas a-plenty, but some are much more fleshed out than others. There's also the issue of finding an artist, which isn't as easy as it sounds. There are literally millions of artists out there, but there are also millions of reasons why I can't use most of them. Most of those reasons boil down to an insufficiency of talent, incompatibility of style, unprofessionalism or page rates that price them out for me. When you cut out the artists who fall into those categories, sometimes it seems like there's about three left, and they're exclusive to Marvel or DC, or already working on a high-profile Image or Dark Horse book. Finding an artist is not impossible, though, not by any means - it's just somewhat effort intensive. When I started, I did huge talent searches based on an ad I placed at the Digital Webbing site. Each ad resulted in about a hundred responses from aspiring artists. From there, I narrowed it down, applying the various filters I mentioned in the previous paragraph. At this point, I'm a bit more established, so I have more access to good artists. I've met a bunch of people at cons, for one thing, and for another it's not unheard of that an artist might actually be familiar with my work, so that can open doors.
So, right now I am in project/artist matching phase. I have something like 12 "active" ideas, any one of which I think I could turn into a good story. Some could be done in the equivalent of three issues (66 pages or so), some would take eight or even twelve. (Almost every comic writer has his 50-issue maxiseries he'd like to tell, and I'm no exception, but I don't think I have the juice yet to pull that off. Perhaps after a few more years of work, and a few more successful projects.) The projects range across genres as well. There's an amazing allegorical story called "Fun City" I would love to tell someday, but I'm not sure it'd be a barnstormer as far as commercial potential. One artist I've been in touch with likes another idea, "The Thousand Ships," which is an epic battle story in the vein of (but not necessarily the setting of) something like Gladiator. I have a loose outline for that one, but I need to try to work it into something concrete - firm up the beats and so on. I also wonder whether this particular artist is the right guy for that story. His work (at least that I've seen so far), is reminiscent of Farel Dalrymple, the artist on that strange and cool "Omega the Unknown" series Jonathan Lethem put out a year or two ago. While Farel's stuff is great, and so is the work I've seen of this artist I'm talking to, I'm not sure that either one of those dudes would be my first choice for an epic naval warfare story.
Still, sometimes we writers are truly beggars when it comes to lining up artists for projects, and choice can be a luxury. I'm going to work up "The Thousand Ships," with the thought in mind that it's never, ever a bad idea to get a story into finished form, and whether this artist works for it or not, at least it'll be another project that's scripted and ready to go. Hopefully in a few months you'll start to see some badass barbarian/Asian/post-apocalyptic/space-based/Aleutian ships being posted up here.
(I haven't decided where, or when, to set it yet.)