Geez. So much has happened this year. Read my thoughts after the jump… In 2011 I resolved early on to just step into the unknown and fully embrace it. I wouldn’t struggle against any currents.
My personal life….
Things on the homefront are better than ever, but I also resolved to keep a little more of my private life, more privatey… Except if you’re friends and see our shenanigans on Facebook. Sometimes it seems our weird little life is entertainment for our pals. Tune into the D.J. & Calista show! I once remarked that my semi-autobio comic, YIRMUMAH kinda ended, but the show kept going in social circles.
This year we let our two oldest sons, Devin and Dillon join facebook. We were both against it at first. Personally I see no need for 13-14 year olds to have Facebook accounts… but then I realized that ALL of their friends were doing it. Talk about peer pressure. Maybe I was becoming the “Dad” who would be like “I don’t want you watching that MTV!!!” or something. We decided to set rules… basically my kids can have facebook pages and texting and all that, but at anytime, much like our big brother government, we can step in and see what’s going on or who they’re talking to. That’s just how it is. So yes, we’re still pretty protective parents… but, shit, look at the world out there!
Another cool thing in my personal life this year was taking the road trip with my wife to Hukilau down in Florida. We met all kinds of cool new people with similar interests, but most of all I just enjoyed the time with her, adventuring. Gosh, I love her so much. I’m such a lucky nerd. I don’t want to brag, but I think I have one of the sexiest wives around. If only random people would stop falling in love with her… but I can’t really blame ’em. I’d fall in love with her all over again too, and I do it often.
Our tiki adventures continued as we got back from Hukilau and decided that we didn’t’ have enough TIKI in our personal life. So we scrapped together a little get together at the Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh. The first night consisted only of myself, my wife and two other tiki friends (Hey Paul and Jim!) But subsequent Tiki Tuesdays we had 13-14 people. It’s the first Tuesday of every month… unfortunately we don’t get to attend all of them with our busy schedule, but I’m really happy to report that it’s become a regular thing now and we even have the coolest DJ around, Lucky the painproof man.
There was some sadness too in 2011. My older brother Scott Harbarger passed away at the age of 44 from Esophageal cancer. I still reckon it was because of the “gulf war syndrome” stuff he was dealing with all these years. Thanks a lot Uncle Sam. If you were to have ever told me that I’d carry a flag draped coffin in my lifetime, I’d of told you it wasn’t very likely. But that’s exactly what I found myself doing earlier this year. It was pretty heart wrenching at the time, but thinking back now I’m really proud I was there to do it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever dealt with the lingering emotions I have from his passing. It’s one of those classic stories where last fall we were talking about getting together and me bringing the boys up to see him and he’d show off his models and take them to the airport…. then January came with the diagnosis. A little reminder that life isn’t fair, don’t put things off, and reach out to those who are important to you while you still can. Word.
The llama bar. Yeah, I’m a bit nuts with this whole tiki/witco thing. This year I attracted an awesome woodworker to build me a mini bar for my office shaped like a friggin LLAMA. It’s awesome. It’s a real thing of beauty. I look at it as sort of like this big trophy or marker to close an old chapter of my life and start a whole new one. His belly is full of good things to drink.
Fitness. You know, it’s ironic that I started 2011 on a fitness kick and lost 15lbs, but nobody else was onboard at my house! So I quickly fell back off the wagon and gained it all back and THEN some. UGH. Well, now it’s the end of the year and my wife has been kicking ass at the gym. She’s lost 25lbs and is becoming a sexy beast. I jumped back on the home workouts and eating right and I’ve lost 15lbs again. Since October I’ve really been trying to make it more of a lifestyle change. Cutting out the crap, but not punishing myself either. I figure, I’m 35. There may not be a better time for me to start getting in shape now so I can enjoy my 40s in good asskicking health. I’m excited to be young and healthy with my wife again. YAY, US.
Over in the business side of things….
I signed a deal early in the year with SmarterComics to carry my graphic novel about the Law of Attraction. (which is now available on all sorts of things and in print) – I had been working on the project on my own for some time (very slowly!) and was going to self publish, but I once told a friend that the right publisher would just come along, as some sort of example of using the law itself. And so it did! When I heard about what SmarterComics was doing with non-fiction I got really excited. I think it’s a big part of Will Eisner’s vision that comics can be way more than just entertainment, they can also teach and help change lives. So YES! I’m so happy this is out there now. It’ll be in bookstores in January, but your best bet is to order it direct, or buy it up on your Kindle. (link up there)
Bigfoot and Tiki kept on rolling along. A fun silly offshoot of my YIRMUMAH comics. I know it’s wacky and silly and sometimes makes no sense… but isn’t that what the world needs a little more of! Working with Lanikai Ukuleles has been fun too. I love it when they throw me surprises. Stuff like spot art for shirts or display stands. It’s been so awesome to hear from fans who said they went into a Guitar Center or some other music shop, saw the big Lanikai Display and recognized my artwork on there. One dude recently said it was the first time he saw a webcomic OUTSIDE of the comic and entertainment industry out in the real world that he recognized. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! That’s so awesome to hear. I’ve met so many cool new people through my comics. I’ve also been talking with Tiki Farm’s owner about Bigfoot and Tiki tiki mugs! How cool would that shiz be!?! Hopefully in 2012 we can make that happen (I’ve been so busy I forgot to draw up mug designs! AK! Stupid me!)
Trader Don’s – Yeah, I was bit by the tiki bug really bad this year. Thanks Hukilau! So much so I just kinda dreamed of retiring from comics and working life all together and open my own tiki bar. Instead, I developed a new comic strip with all new characters and gave it a go. Sadly, it had to meet hiatus way too soon (you’ll see why in a second) – but I REALLY REALLY REALLY enjoy drawing and designing pop polynesian type stuff, so I’m going to use that as a good excuse to bust out the rum and do some painting this year! HELLZ YES. I may return to Trader Don’s, but it wasn’t really about making it into a full on business, I was just exploring again and trucking along 3 days a week…. uNTIL…
HERO BY NIGHT IS BACK…. So, it finally happened. The clouds parted, the stars aligned and everyone agreed on my plan to publish new Hero By Night comics, uninhibited, no drama…. just back to fun comic book stories. Really, the fans kept this alive for me. I had just about closed the door on the whole thing, but the e-mails from fans and real life superheroes has really kept the fire burning somewhere. I’m glad we made this happen. Just goes to show that POSITIVE thinking and attracting good things to you really works. Jason made the comment that it’s funny, but it took 3 years for the universe to rearrange everything and get rid of certain people who were impeding our plans. Now everything is set right.I wrote a big blog with my thoughts on the return over at herobynight.com Read all about it here.
AND SO HERE WE ARE…
So much more happened this year, but those are just the highlights that stick out for me. I have a pretty kickass life, and I’m always humbled by folks who want to share it with us or just be around us to let some of our “vibe” rub off on them. Life is good. If you’re reading this, whoever you are, I wish you the best too. Don’t feel like you’re life can’t be JUST as awesome. You may need to sacrifice some of the unneeded stuff in your life (some material, some mental) but you seriously can have whatever life you choose to live. Out with the old, in with the new. Do it up!
Happy New Year!