Twentieth Anniversary Week: Ending the Oracle for Hire

In May of 2013 I officially ended the story of Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire. It ran for eleven years and updated over three thousand comics. I had been doing nothing but that story for over a decade and was lucky enough to build a sizeable audience. I knew that stepping away from the one thing everyone knows you for was a big risk, but it was one I needed to take. Near the end of that eleventh year I started to feel the beginnings of that most dreaded creative condition: burnout.

So I brought the Oracle for Hire years to a close and pivoted from high fantasy to superhero science fiction, and teamed with my dear friend Garth Graham to make it. It was the creative shot in the arm I needed to jumpstart my imagination and shake up my writing style. Working by yourself is one thing, but collaborating with someone and making sure they’re happy is another matter altogether. I had a blast doing STAR POWER with Garth. It was one of the best creative experiences of my life and I will forever treasure those seven years we worked together.

But it came with a small price. While we had lots of people follow us onto this next adventure, lots of people politely declined to make the pivot from one genre to another. As I said, when you step away from the one thing everyone knows you for to take a risk with something very different, not everyone will want to be with you for the new thing they don’t know you for. Steve Martin once said something like, “People want something different from you, but they also want the same thing.” To save myself and my love of comics, I needed to do something very different.

And once STAR POWER was completed, I felt ready to come back to the world of Dominic Deegan and begin The Legacy. I missed being a solo creator. I felt ready to give myself room to experiment and grow artistically in a way that the Oracle for Hire years didn’t allow me to do. It was an important step in my career as a comics creator, but it also came with a price.

The Legacy is very different from Oracle for Hire and it’s trying to make itself known in a very different internet. The Legacy moves slowly, has very low stakes, and has long moments of quiet introspection, while the Oracle for Hire years moved very quickly, had world-changing stakes, and long moments of ultra-violence. Combined with an internet that no longer has that DIY feel of twenty years ago, but rather a corporately sanitized environment where discovery is controlled by infuriating social media algorithms, letting people know The Legacy even exists has been a surprisingly uphill battle this late in my career.

But I still don’t regret anything I’ve done. Plugging along with Oracle for Hire for the entirety of these twenty years would have burned me out long ago, and instead of being inspired to make new works and try new things I would have very likely let my work fizzle out with an unresolved cliffhanger. Stopping and starting and stopping again and starting again was a pricey decision, but I’d make it again in a heartbeat. It’s twenty years later and I still love doing this.

Ending the Oracle for Hire years was the best choice I could have made, for the story and for myself.

More to talk about tomorrow.