A few months ago Ted McKeever, who has a resume as long as my arm and two legs put together, announced he was moving away from comics. But not before releasing a blistering roman a clef a bout his career called Pencil Head. But it jus isn’t fun any more, he writes.
Traversing the comic book landscape of late has, shall I say, become less than enjoyable from a creative standpoint. It’s all but impossible for me to maintain a level of enthusiasm on the projects I work on, with the industry heading more and more in a direction that just doesn’t jibe with what I do. Simply said, I’m no longer having as much fun working on comics as I used to. And so, Pencil Head will be my final series.
I was deeply saddened by this, as Ted is a unique, powerful talent with a body of work that shows not only a powerful storytelling voice but a haunting streak of surrealism – from Eddy Current to Transit to Plastic Forks to The Extremist to his recent work like Meta 4, Miniature Jesus and so on. He’s one of the creators who I kept hoping would get “rediscovered” by the newer comics readers as an auteur. But I guess that’s still a ways in the future. Resurrecting careers still isn’t on the comics industry’s to do list, unless deciding that saying Moebius, one of the top 10 all time cartoonists, is cool again counts as “rediscovering.”
Anyway, McKeever sits down with Alex Dueben for an exit interview that just does more to point out what a fantastic career he’s had.
You’ve said that “Pencil Head” is your last comic. Is the plan still to collect the book? Will you be keeping your older books in print? Is there a chance that some of the books that have never been collected will finally get collected, and is there something that you think needs to be collected or completed?
Let me put it this way. Jim Valentino did me a solid by inviting me into Shadowline/Image. He first offered me the opportunity to collect my earlier works, “Transit,” “Eddy Current,” and “METROPoL,” into beautifully bound hardcover, black and white editions, size based to my specifications.
He then asked me if I had anything new I’d like to do. With no demands, and no rules, he opened a door for me to create “Meta4,” “Mondo,” “Miniature Jesus,” and “The Superannuated Man.” All of which are some of my most personal, and satisfying projects to date. And then, he collected each one into a trade that reflected the individual series’ specific tone, spot on.
For what’s it’s worth, Jim is one of the last few remaining people in the comics industry whose handshake holds more weight, than any contract I have ever signed. Jim gave me free rein to just let go, and create. For that, I am, and will always be, grateful.
It does’t really suck to be a middle aged comics pro. Perspective and a solid body of work are their own reward. McKeever is going to keep making art and that’s the most important thing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.