We try to keep you informed with what’s going on here at LOAC Central, even when the news isn’t exactly what we want it to be. This is one of those times.
I’ll give it to you straight, with no candy-coating: Genius, Illustrated, the second book in our series devoted to the brilliant artist Alex Toth, is going to be late. And I’m the hold-up, because I’m still writing the text.
You can bet I don’t like this situation—I know this means I’ve let down Dean (who has a 2012 release schedule that we really do try to follow) and all the readers who are eagerly awaitingIllustrated. I bust a hump not to come up short often, but this time that is indeed what has happened.
Part of the reason I’m delayed has to do with some personal business. Not all of it was badpersonal business—and you’ll probably hear about bits and pieces of that as the months unfold – but I did lose a chunk of almost eight weeks last fall due to a loved one’s illness. There are times when those you care about need you to step up for them, and while I regret that doing so has cost me in other areas (meeting my Illustrated schedule among them), I know in this instance I did the right thing. I was still able to keep up all my other LOAC duties, but some things in my life had to give, and my work on Illustrated was one of them.
Part of the reason also has to do with the devotion to Alex Toth and the interest in our work among his admirers, friends, and colleagues, because they have continued to come forward throughout 2011 and into 2012. They have offered to be interviewed and share their stories about and remembrances of this man who played such a key role in their own lives, or to provide us with one more stack of correspondence to be digested and correlated with the rest of our accumulated research, one more rare piece of artwork to sigh over, one more little-known fact or anecdote about Alex or his work to successfully incorporate into the narrative flow of the text. This is a mighty good issue to deal with, but it has affected my ability to “make the trains run on time.”
One of the treasures awaiting in Genius, Illustrated: Alex’s original artwork for the complete “White Devil…Yellow Devil.” In this sample, note how Alex re-inked the page after receiving the originals back from DC! From Star Spangled War Stories #164. Copyright 1972 DC Comics Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
And of course, not all the problems are tied to outside sources. Part of the reason was that Iunderestimated the sheer amount of work required to bring Toth’s life and career into proper focus. Having produced our text feature for Scorchy Smith & The Art of Noel Sickles, I thought I had a good handle on the scope of an Alex Toth overview and my approach going into the Geniusproject was similar to my Sickles approach: gather the information, organize it into a timeline while looking for the common themes and finding the most compelling way to tell the person’s “story,” then do the actual writing. As Dean noted in his Preface to our first volume (Genius, Isolated), Alex’s story is less a clear plotline than a mosaic from which clarity emerges as all the various pieces are drawn together. I definitely take responsibility for needing more time than I expected to deal with the sheer volume of information we’ve assembled, to understand what it was telling me, and to put myself in a position where I can – I hope! – do proper justice to Alex, his immense legacy, his family, and several of the friends who knew him so well and cared about him so much.
The silver lining in the cloud is that my other writing responsibilities for LOAC are being met – I’m turning in all my shorter pieces for Steve Canyon, Flash Gordon/Jungle Jim, and Li’l Abner on time. Now, that’s a thin silver line, because time spent researching and writing for those series is time that can’t be spent on Illustrated, but I suspect everyone will agree it’s better to have the bulk of the titles flowing on time than to have one project (no matter how important) creating a “logjam” that delays three or four others.
I wish we could give you a hard-and-fast revised date for Illustrated‘s release, but my crystal ball isn’t that clear right now. Let us get further down the line so we can see a good date, then we’ll pass it along. The best thing I can tell you is: I feel the pressure to get Genius, Illustrated written as well as I can write it and as fast as I can write it so we can get the necessary approvals, then assemble the book, go through the proofing and correcting cycles, and be printer-ready. This is a powerful motivating force in my life right now.
There’s the story—my immediate hope is that you’ll understand the situation. If you have bouquets or brickbats you wish to toss, our contact info is just a couple clicks away.
My ultimate hope is that when you finally do see Genius, Illustrated, you’ll agree it’s been worth the extra wait. And as soon as we can possibly get this book up for sale, we will. After all, we’re as anxious to hold a copy in our hands as you are!