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The year started with a trip to Toronto, Canada for the first week of filming of the Umbrella Academy Netflix show. Was super exciting and surreal. Was great to be there with brothers Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon. Gabriel draws the book and Fabio is always there to support his brother. Was also cool being there with Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg from Dark Horse, and Kate and Stacy and Dawn from UCP.

It snowed a lot in Toronto, which was nice, because I hadn’t seen snow in about 3 and a half years, when I was on tour for Hesitant Alien. This is me hanging outside the hotel watching the quiet snowy streets.

Almost every Friday this year I got to make music again, which was great. Ended up with quite the collection of demos and even got to start releasing music again toward the end of the year. Glad music was playing a role in my life again, as I had been spending the last two years writing comics and working on television. This is a photo from the studio I share with Doug and Ray, Milk Friends.

While I recorded music on Fridays, the main thing I did this year was write more comics. Here is a shot of me in my office. I took this photo myself with a small handheld controller you used with your phone to snap the picture. This is where I work. Being a writer is incredibly hard, as any writer will tell you, but I also find it to be one of the most rewarding things you can do, and I plan to continue doing it. 

Here is an old page from one of my sketchbooks a year or two after I had graduated art school. The main image of the man and the ghost is a study from a book about the paranormal and hoaxes. The rest of the studies are posters from Klaus Hargreeves’ interpretive dance show that he had after he left the Umbrella Academy— we will see that one day. 

2018 was a dark year full of black magic in my opinion, so it got me thinking about witches again. I was inspired to buy this mask because I had just written a song called I Am The Hag, which I haven’t finished yet. It’s kind of heavy. Maybe I’ll release it in 2019. 

Lots of squirrels visit us at the house, and Lindsey feeds all of them and has a relationship with them and the other animals that come to the house for food, such as doves and scrub-jays. and two sparrows (named Arthur and Annie). Most of them have names. This squirrel, named Barbara, is waiting for us to come and give her seeds and for Lindsey to feed her peanuts. This is a tradition we upheld from the previous owners, painters Marion Peck and Mark Ryden, who explained to us when we bought the house from them that the house comes with squirrels we will need to look after. We were very happy about that. Barbara always tries to get into the glass jar we keep the seeds in, and has broken 2 glass jar-tops trying to get into them.

Bandit and her best friend like to build Faerie houses with Lindsey and put them in our garden. I love them. 

I collected a lot of vintage t-shirts in 2018. Everything from Danzig to Ghostbusters to Star Trek and Slayer. This is a really cool Slayer sweatshirt I found on ebay. There is always small thread of irony to me when I wear a Slayer shirt (though I am not a big fan of doing things for ironic reasons) because MCR famously almost got bottled off stage at Reading way back in the day when we had to play after Slayer on the main stage, this was right before Black Parade. There is no good way to play around Slayer. They are legends. If you play before them, the crowd will just chant Slayer the whole time and try and get you off stage. If you play after them, they will still chant Slayer and also try and get you off the stage. So if you’re booked on a festival and you aren’t a super heavy or equally legendary band, you need to play far enough away from Slayer’s time slot. The incident never made me stop loving Slayer, as I had been listening to them since middle school, when I would have to hide my cassettes from my parents because of the PMRC and the Satanic Panic scare of the 80’s. That day we won the crowd over and by the end everyone was singing along to Helena, but boy did it start dicey. Definitely slipped on a rotted peach, dodged nine-volt batteries, and got someone’s piss in my mouth. It was a character building experience.

I also started collecting painted miniatures this year, and I got this nicely painted vintage Greater Daemon of Nurgle off etsy. I have been into Games Workshop miniatures and games since I was about 15, when my friend DJ introduced me to Titan Legions and Epic 40k. I just love the world and I find painting and converting miniatures to be relaxing. I played Eldar back then, and remember I got the wrong kind of paint at first, Testors enamel gold and red. Was very hard to paint with enamels, and the whole thing looked like it was covered in a shiny rock-hard glaze. I still play Games Workshop games today, and even played a 4-way Necromunda battle last night with Mikey, Jeremy, and Jason. It was fast and violent, though we still didn’t get to finish. I often think that maybe one day I’ll get into creating or publishing or making miniatures games and rulebooks. But it’s basically the last hobby I have that I haven’t turned into a job, so I am a little hesitant. I buy painted miniatures now because I never have any time to paint.

Here is Lotion, my cat that I sometimes post pictures of on instagram. I love him and Mitch, our other cat, so much. But I have a special connection to Lotion. When we first got him, Lindsey told me I should sit in a room with him and read to him so the cat would get familiar to my voice and bond with me. We were in a spare bedroom with the door shut and he was hiding behind the couch. I read Frank Herbert’s Dune to him, and eventually he came out from behind the couch to be pet by me. We bonded, and have been bonded ever since. He had some scary health problems this year, and was in and out of surgeries and animal hospitals, but he made it through and he is in great shape now. I used to be allergic to cats, and I might still be in some ways, but this breed of cat, while not hypo-allergenic, is very low on the allergy spectrum. At first, I did get a little allergic, breaking out in a hive or two, but over time my body got used to it. If I ever got a scratch, it would raise from the allergies, but even that has gone away. Now, I never get allergic when I’m around other people’s cats. And now I’m a cat person.

So much I want to say about this but so much I also want to keep personal. But it has been an incredible 11 years married to Lindsey and I fall more in love with her all the time. It has flown by. We got married after being with each other for about 2 and a half months, and never looked back. One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, and something that brings me constant calm, completeness, and joy. 

Here is a sketch I did for Gabriel to use as a guide for the first cover of Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion. This cover had been in my head for years, and I am fairly certain I sketched this out a couple other times, as it took us a long time to put this series out. Gabriel and I were very happy to get back to Umbrella Academy and finish our story, and the plan is to try and have maybe 3 month gaps between each new volume, of which there are 8 planned total. 

This is Rosy Ronkey. I discovered a new artist I fell in love with this year, Annie Montgomerie, who makes this beautiful and magical fine art creatures. From the minute I saw a photo of Rosy I knew I had to have her, and made sure to be ready the minute she became available. Rosy inspired a character in a book I am trying to write, along with other characters inspired by Annie’s work. You should look her up and check her out. She is brilliant.

I also started collecting old masks this year, and this one is my favorite. A fly. I have plans to use this mask in a photo shoot, so hopefully I can get to do that soon.

Just a little scribble I did this year. No pencil I believe, just drawing with pen.

One of the best shows I ever saw, and some of the best seats I ever had, courtesy of the band. It was such a healing and therapeutic experience that I never wanted to end. One of my favorite bands. 

One of the things I am blessed to be able to do is work with Make A Wish. And this year I got to do it twice. My favorite thing to do and suggest on a make a wish is walking around a museum with the wish recipient and talk about art. And they are always special and creative people. Sometimes the wish recipient has their own request, such as simply sitting down and having coffee with me and any of the guys from the band, and we got to do that too this year. Every one of these recipients has been an extremely brave and courageous and special person, and their families are always so wonderful. They all have stories, and they are all creative. This is one of the best things I get to do. This is a shot of some art I loved during the most recent Make A Wish. 

Another cool thing that happened this year is that DC Collectibles put out 2 statues based on two designs I had done for a Batman story I never got to write. This was awesome seeing them come to life, and the artists and sculptors at DC Collectibles were wonderful. 

Another creation brought to life, this time through Dark Horse Comics, and from Gabriel and I’s comic, the Umbrella Academy. This thing is huge in person and captures Gabriel’s art wonderfully. This is Luther Hargreeves, Number 1, Spaceboy.

One of my favorite conventions is NC Comicon, in North Carolina. It is co-owned and co-run by one of my favorite artists, Tommy Lee Edwards, and they always make me feel so welcomed and taken care of. It’s hard for me to make it out to cons given my workload, but I always try and go to this one. It is extremely artist friendly and non-corporate. It’s all about the art and the fans. Here is a shot of a big Mecha-Godzilla from the Holy Mountain printing booth. Holy Mountain is great and very generous, and sent me some wonderful things this year after I had made an order with them. You should check them out. 

2018 saw the return of The Umbrella Academy, and here is Klaus Hargreeves AKA The Seance, one of my favorite characters from the book. He’s had a rough go of it as of late. Poor Klaus.

Here is a shot of the Haunted House I took, trying to finalize cover artwork for Baby, You’re A Haunted House, which I released this year. This house was made by Damien James Webb, and inspired me to put the single out for Halloween. Damien makes fantastic work and was wonderful to work with. 

Here is a shot from a real haunted house, Halloween 2018.

One of the cool things we got to do this year was visit the Jim Henson Creature shop. The people there were wonderful and gave us an amazing tour. 

Another great show I saw this year was The Smashing Pumpkins at The Forum, California. This is my favorite arena in the world, and where I had what was in my opinion the best show I ever had. Black Parade at the Forum sold out. I will always remember the ceiling at this place, it’s burned into my brain and feels comforting. This show was sold out too, and the Pumpkins were fantastic.

I also released Getting Down The Germs this year. Lindsey was awesome enough to make me this amazing piece of art for the single, and this is my hand written note to the designer Alex on how to put the text on it. We ended up going with a different orientation but I was very happy with the end result. Love this piece. 

My parents came to visit this year and it was a great time. This is a photo we took walking around the neighborhood. 

Here is a photo from a comic art exhibition in Brazil, from my recent trip there with Netflix for the upcoming Umbrella Academy Netflix series (Feb 15th!). Got to walk around the exhibit with some of the cast from the show, who are wonderful. Was a great trip. 

Here is another photo from the same exhibition, of one of my favorite costume designs, Robin. 

I took this picture from the plane coming home from Brazil. Was a very long flight and it was nice to get back to California. 

And closing out the year, here is a photo I took of myself after I got a haircut. I hadn’t cut my hair in something like 3 years and it was getting extremely long. It felt nice to get it cut, I felt more like myself. I also felt like I was coming out of a fog when I got the haircut, like a veil had been lifted on my brian and started to think about actively participating in the world again. One of the things that helped this was starting to do Transcendental Meditation again, and after about 2 straight months of it I started to feel my brain sparks start to happen again. I also stuck with my treatment and meds, and found a new talk therapist, which has been amazing. I made a lot of progress this year.