Forgive Us Our Sins Or, Why Sins Of The Wreckers Was Delayed
Reposted, with permission, from Nick Roche’s blog.
This coming Wednesday, June 29th 2016, the fifth and final issue of Sins Of The Wreckers will be released. Of course, we should be on the tail-end of the coccyx-quivering comedown by now, but unfortunately the series has been hit by a not inconsequential series of delays of the most personal kind. I don’t really indulge in the old online over-share (I’m the opposite in company) so what I’m about to slather all over you is as intimate as you and I are likely to get…
Before that happens though, the bottom line is: I’m sorry. Unavoidable as the whole thing was, it was tough on my co-creators and editors, and especially on retailers and readers. If you’ve stayed with us, or helped keep the series alive online during its breaks, you have my heartfelt thanks.
Since around this time last year, when I had already commenced art on Sins (all five scripts had been completed by then), my family have collided with an array of Lifeburps. All the big ones, basically. My wife lost her father, our son was born (the best of Lifeburps, and one accounted for in the original Sins schedule) and my mam, Carol, was diagnosed with lung cancer. (All those things happened within about five weeks, if I recall.) When something like the above happens, time obviously needs to be taken; time spent with the person suffering, time spent in consultant’s waiting rooms, puckered and sucked-in; time when your brain breaks and dissolves at the same time, and you just need the dark of a curtained room and the hug of someone you can scream about unfairness to.
But we stayed the course. The book was on track. It had been such a long time coming – a chance to write AND draw five issues of what was already a personal and intense story. The best thing that ever happened on Last Stand Of The Wreckers was the head-bashing and tectonic tweaking of the early approval purpose. That delay, after all, lead to James Roberts coming on board improving that series, Transformers itself, and my life in general. But the chance to get a clear shot; write and draw all five issues; just nail this sucker… it was my everything. Until I realised it wasn’t. How could it be. My everything was changing day by day, minute by minute. Life now was lost children wondering where their parents were.
In November things got bad. Mam a run of really bad luck healthwise just after Hallowe’en, and work had to stop. Then start. Then stop again. I told my editor John Barber about how my situation had developed, and that IDW would need to know that after #3, #4 wasn’t going in jeopardy. I was looking at my work process at this point, seeing what corners could be cut, and which pages I could hand over to an inker in order to get the book back on track, make sure Josh and Tom got paid for that month’s work, ensure retailers had their stock, that readers didn’t have to wait… John made the call, the kindest, most surprising call. We could solicit #4 a month late. When I needed something to go right, to earn a win that could let me breathe, and spend time with family, AND get the book done, John Barber came through.
Mam’s cancer must have had a far crueller editor. What we thought were just a few setbacks were teaser trailers for The End (or as it now feels like, tone poems as portent for 2016 itself). The cancer had spread like an inconsiderate subway passenger. I’d have to move my family the ninety or so miles from our home of ten years to be help Mam out. The week after Christmas. Time to ruin another editor’s day…
John Barber, like Nixon before him, had gone to China. I’ll be forever sorry for the crapsalad I had left him on his return. In his absence, I had to speak to IDW’s editor in chief, Chris Ryall. I wasn’t looking for extra work-time at this point. I just needed to let someone know about the situation, and salvage what I could of my involvement in the project. It was a ridiculously emotional phonecall, with us having far too much in common on the parent mortality front. I’ll insult Ryall by saying this, because seemingly he was there already, but for me it was the realisation that Chris had gone from ‘friend’ to ‘Friend, capitalised ‘F’, “got-your-back, N-Roc”. I needed to hear – from him, right then – that comics will be waiting for me, and to go and take time with my mam. Wreckers will be there when I come back.
We lost Mam back in February. There’s a page in #4 of Sins that I finished pencilling on the day she popped off. It’s my favourite issue of the series partly because it contains the line, “On Earth, life is short and it FEELS it.” She died early enough in the year that she didn’t seem like she was jumping on the tedious griefwagon that is 2016. She went after Bowie, but EVERYONE goes after Bowie.
Her last words were Wreck and Rule
#4 came out in April. #5 was due in May, but I had a few wobbles; grieftershocks. It was completed in time to come out for the first week of June, but I fear some production snafu somewhere along the way. It’s no one’s fault; these things have happened before, even without a bereavement to clog up the works.
I feel I have to state here quite coldly to readers, retailers, future-collaborators and potential editors: This was a one-off. Don’t let the stop-start nature of the series – facilitated through the kindness of my publisher – reflect my workrate or ability. And now that I’ve gone full Bruce Wayne, after losing both parents, I’m actually infinitely more employable that someone with a functioning set of immediate ancestors.
Comics is a good place with good, good people. Apart from my pals at IDW, The crew at The Big Bang and Dublin City Comics, and the gang on the Irish comics scene – Will Sliney, Declan Shalvey, Stephen Mooney and Ben Hennessy especially (Kieron Gillen is included here too due to that Oirishest of names) – all helped out at various stages, offering portable graphic set-ups for my trips up-and-down the country, and help when I had to move house.
I’d be so impressed with myself if the above was a massive publicity stunt in order to boost sales for #5. (No one in comics has stooped that far yet, but we all know who it will be when it happens…) But we definitely need the love. I think we stick the landing. It’s ridiculously emotional, but earned I feel. Josh Burcham who – no, really – should and will be a superstar, just continues to make it look unlike anything else out there, and certainly not any other Transformers comic. Lost of shops still have earlier issues. Urge a friend to download the previous four ahead of this one. Read it all in one sitting (I did it while prepping the MASSIVE amount of process articles for the TPB) because, I think that’s where the song it sings sounds sweetest. Five-page preview here: https://t.co/971b82N8bu I’m @NickRoche on twitter, so let me know what you think when it’s all put to bed.
Thanks for your time. Who knows if and when I’ll get to write AND draw a project like this again – for the first time ever, I have more writing gigs booked than art ones – but if you’ve enjoyed it and want more tell IDW (and anyone else you fancy!) and do what you can to let folk know that this was genuinely worth the wait.
It was, wasn’t it?