2022 Is The Future...But Just Barely
aka Jilted League both lives forever and yet never lived?
One of the strange effects of the Substack deal aka being given money to build what you want without anyone telling you what that should be, is that you get to thinking about all the projects you’ve loved over the years but left by the wayside for one reason or another (usually because you don’t have the time/money/freedom to do it). I have been very fortunate in the success of my comics career and I have no regrets and a whole lotta gratefulness about that. But it does mean that projects not shaped in that exact form (mostly Work For Hire comics) have gotten lost along the way.
So I was already in this strange headspace and then Adam was cleaning out our office closet, which always means going through lots of old sketchbooks and notebooks, and before you know it you’re in a memory lane nostalgia tsunami.
One of many things I saw in my journey through old work, was something from maybe 20 (?!?) years ago that was a comic book I wanted to do called JUSTICE 2022 (yes, I was very very serious once, let’s just let it go). You can just FEEL how many pouches and guns a title like that would need, right?
Anyway, while we’re busy making fun of the JUSTICE of it all in that title, we’re ignoring the 2022. In fairness to me, everything from Running Man and Cherry 2000 to freaking BLADE RUNNER was set in and around 2017, so…this happens to us all. Time catches up.
While it’s always fun to have a good chuckle about how naive you used to be — how 20 years ago the year 2022 felt like the DISTANT SCI-FI FUTURE and now, let’s face it, that shit is RIGHT around the corner. We have literally one Thanksgiving and one Christmas holiday season standing between us and 2022 aka THE FUTURE.
But instead of just making fun of myself - as that gets sad kind of fast - I started thinking about all this time that had passed and all the projects that I have had to pack into mothballs thanks to being successful in one very specific area - writing comics. And nothing’s changing there. Comics is still my truest love and I suspect it always will be. My passion for it is never fading. But I can also admit that the ache to return to other things is…palpable.
My novels (THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING and STORYKILLER) are obviously the biggest heartache. I have big very real plans for both those books - though I suspect that - even if I’m lucky and focused - I’ll only be able to manage pushing one of them further. And that hurts. Honestly.
But there’s lots of other little things…the fevered scratchings of comic book and web comic ideas…the beginnings of short stories and even some hastily abandoned novels…a children’s book or two…a book of little comics about my cats (drawn by me - never gonna happen!)…there are so many things that have been abandoned over the years. Not all of them are gems…but some definitely are! Well, maybe.
But amid all that cacophony of abandon, other than the novels, one thing does always rise to the top again — and no, I’m sorry to say it’s not JUSTICE 2022. (God, imagine if you guys knew about T.N.T. (a blatant X-Men rip off I began writing in my teens. Lordy!)
Anyway, it’s these ladies. THE JILTED LEAGUE.
They are: The Bimbo (Olympia), The Brain (Dina), and The Bitch (Val). Unlikely superheroes with limited powers who first join up together for revenge but stay together for a lot of other reasons - friendship, security, INsecurity, a chance to do some good, blah blah blah. (There’s also a blonde who’s like the Charlie of Charlie’s Angels or the Oracle from Birds of Prey).
It’s superhero satire and though it has aged a bit rough around the edges (haven’t we all?) and there are a lot of changes I’d make to it for a 2022 world…in some ways it’s maybe exactly the kind of thing I still want to do? Comedy satire that loves what it is satirizing but also knows there are ridiculous and often toxic things about it.
It’s always felt like way too huge a project for me (in any form tbh) but lately — thanks to this platform and the way it has me thinking about experimenting with new ideas and forms — I’ve been considering revisiting the ladies SOMEHOW.
Anyway, with that on my mind, I thought I’d share with you guys the last time I drew them - as a bit to promote something ELSE I was working on. Ah, yes, the irony is extra thick in here today.
Anyway. Thanks for reading. I’m sorry if this was a weird one, but this has been on my mind a lot and sometimes the best way to figure out what it is I’m ACTUALLY thinking about, is to simply write it out. Writer finds writing helpful. Film at 11.
As creatives, shiny new things lead us away from stuff we’re working on all the time, it’s one of the tricks you have to learn in order to be successful and finish work — to ignore the siren song of the shiny new idea. But what about when the old idea that you abandoned that never really fades?
Be good to one another and yourself. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Do what you love, if only in the tiny quiet moments you can steal. <3
PS - A no-prize (an original sketch cover!) to whoever can figure out what my teenage X-Men ripoff comic T.N.T. stands for. (Hint, it’s NOT Trinitrotoluene which is what TNT actually stands for).