As I sit here in disbelief that the House of Flying Scalpels is two years old, I look back to the time when I was worried no one would be interested in what I would have to say, or even worse I would struggle to even know how to say it. After a lot of practice and over three hundred and fifty posts, I can finally say that I think I am doing alright. In my first retrospective post (http://wp.me/p2DUQc-Dv) I discussed the values and validation of being a writer, an ode to blogging if you will. Those rewards are still as pertinent today as they have ever been and continue to fuel my desire. But there are so many other aspects of this wonderful world of comics that have somehow increased my love for it in ways I never imagined. It is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving, but it does require time, patience and a hell of a lot of hard work.
I am unsure if anyone actually noticed but I changed the way I wrote my reviews this past year. I already write extensively on characters, themes and artistic processes but I decided to lose the rigid scaffolding I once firmly adhered to. Instead I did what my best friend told me to do, and that was to allow the writing to flow naturally and enable the main points to come to light instinctively. It is a difficult concept to express but in essence, you have to just write. On the whole, I know what I want to say almost as soon as I put the comic down. There is an instant yearning to communicate the joyous qualities of the art I have just experienced. It is insatiable and everyone out there has to be given a chance to take in what I did and enjoy it just as much. I allow myself the time and space to put to paper the thoughts running through my mind, and somehow it all fits into place. I was once scared to let go of those building blocks, but now they have somehow arranged my writing patterns without me even knowing it. Like I said a year ago, you just have to start writing and to that, Ill now add, keep on writing.
Once you spend time on any social media you will notice that everyone is writing, podcasting or presenting a YouTube channel. We live in a world where anybody can say anything in one form or another. The most interesting thing is that everyone wants to be heard and thinks that they should be heard. I certainly do, but clearly it is not as much as I would like to think it is but that doesn’t matter. As long as someone is reading what you write or better still, you are enjoying what you write, then there is still much to be gained. The process of writing is a joy in itself and I have always found that to be the case. Even if no one reads this post, it matters not because I have thoroughly enjoyed writing it and reminiscing over the amazing year I have had.
Having said that, I have found a corner in the comic blogosphere where I can sit quite comfortably. When instigating a new venture you have to contemplate what you are able to offer. That is either doing something everyone does, but doing it better, or you find something that no one else is doing and make it your own. I wandered into the latter after attempting the former. I am naturally quite inquisitive and find myself looking into aspects of writing and art. Once you begin to question why something is what it is, then the doors open to a brand new world. What sparked this intrigue was meeting the writers and artists at Leeds Thought Bubble last year. I had lost my shyness at the London Con and decided I was just going to ask creators whatever I wanted. This led to some intriguing revelations about the comic creative process and led me into new directions. Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction both commented that I asked a lot of interesting questions that were far from easy to answer, but we have enjoyable conversations nonetheless. This was certainly a validation of not only my blog but of my approach to it. The single most important direction I discovered was regarding the colouring of comics. My discussion with Jordie Bellaire was the point at which I realised that there is very little discussion on the web for colouring. Most places do not discuss the art in significant detail, but the way in which it is brought to life is rarely mentioned. I decided to pursue a colourist art post on a regular basis. The posts and conversations I have had with Jordie, Bettie Breitweiser and Dean White have been immensely memorable and inspiring. This has become a new passion and an aspect of comics I feel a need to promote, because the artistic merit is incredible.
Before I finish my inane ramblings, there is an important reason to why I’m even able to write this post: The House. I initially created this fictitious home because my #FF recommendations become so long that it was becoming cumbersome and I was missing people out. Therefore I decided that I was going to create a list of people of similar ilk, who everyone should be following. I took this a little further and made it more personal, and thus the House was built. For it to have any impact it would need to grow slowly and sentimentally, which is the reason why every person has a unique role and it is still a work in progress. I often enter people when I meet them in reality because they move from Twitter followers to friends. But that should not take away from the quality of relationships, because I am closer to people I have never met on Twitter than some of my friends who I see frequently. This is certainly the case for the members of #HorizonLabs, Rathan, Kyle, George, Rob, Trey and Mark who are the most amazing group of people to spend a Comic Con weekend with.
Along the journey I have done my best to promote fledgling writers and comic creators endeavours. I really wish I could dedicate more time to this and this is an obvious resolution for my third year. It is quite humbling to have someone ask for me to review their work, especially considering how critical I am. For them to ask for my scrutiny is brave because I would only be honest, but I do look for the best in all I read. I have been very pleased to have reviewed for some fantastic books and have been part of some exciting projects. My love affair with Ludo and Kevin of the Tart comic continues with great conviction and I am so pleased at their continuing success. Surprisingly I have also given advice to other bloggers on how to write and begin their reviews. I really do not position myself in any self-congratulatory light here because I am far from the right person for this role, but I will always be as helpful as possible. In a strange way The House has come full circle as it is able to inspire people to read and write about comics, and that is a genuinely amazing effect that I never anticipated.
There is no better example of this than with Alison Berry (@VaGentlenerd). She is the First Lady of the House for a very good reason. Her enthusiasm and support is unbridled and her positivity is infectious. She was one of the first people that read my work and promoted it. Alison became a podcaster and a writer for the great Comicosity site and we discussed her approach to reviewing in some detail. Sure enough her work speaks for itself because her posts are always poignant and pertinent, with some interesting analogies to say the least. In February of this year I won a competition and she sent me a copy of the rebooted Loki book. She wrote a letter to me and it was in her usual impassioned and touching style, thanking me for supporting her throughout her creative adventures. It took me by surprise because I had little idea that I had helped her to any significant level, but similarly I am sure she probably has no clue as to how instrumental she was to the building of the House. But then again that is why she is the First Lady.
Ultimately I have moved from being a lonely comic reader worrying about the minutiae of my articles, to a writer obsessed with promoting the best work and trying to get other people to do the same. It is then when you realise that there are others who share your passion and only want to spread the love as you do. It is those people that I wanted to do something for because without them The House would not exist and I would have remained a quiescent blogger with few comic friends. Over the past year it has grown into a glorious place to be and I impress on you to come and visit, the doors are always open. This is my comic community, these are the greatest friends any comic enthusiast….no, any person could have, and this is my home. Welcome.