2016: A Year of Adversity

J. M. DeSantis Reflections on 2016

2016 has turned out to be a challenging year. I had for a long time held out the hope that it was going to be a great year, another year of progress and success. After all, the past three had been for me (see Reflections on 2013, 2014, and 2015), each year better than the last. And though I can’t say nothing good happened this year, generally speaking, 2016 was the worst year I’ve had in a long, long time. And I think many people–if not most–would agree.

Despite my naivety for the first half of the year, there were signs early on that 2016 was going to be hard. 2015, though that was a good year, ended with terrible news at my teaching job which resulted in contagiously low morale in the New Year. I also suffered a near-crippling creative block for months, and through the year struggled with completely crippling though occasional stomach pains from a recent diverticulitis diagnosis (this last of which has brought on an unwelcome doubt in my health and image of myself, physically).

Outside of my personal woes, the world lost a number of great minds and creators, and even some seemingly less-notable ones. Yet I held on to the hope that it would all pass, and that these were mere early misfortunes, in a year that would turn out good.

J. M. & Mishu By the second half of the year, my overconfidence (as it turned out) was shattered. My office companion, a cat whom I loved very much, died. I had my first bad (horrible, really) convention experience–and that because of the promoter, of all people. Chadhiyana was severely delayed between issues 4 and 5 (though it was no fault of mine, and I don’t place blame on anyone for it–just an unfortunate and unavoidable reality).

In the wider world, people were fighting bitterly for human causes I (again, naively) thought were all but won–or at least progressing further than they turned out to be. Celebrity deaths continued to mount (even now they still do). A very undeserving man won the presidency, and that was even recently officiated by the Electoral College (which everything I had learned about them led me to believe they were put in place to stop undeserving or incapable candidates from gaining the presidency). Never mind, that Trump’s win inspired so many people to acts and words of hatred that I and many others have had to question some of the people who have been in our lives for many years–even people whom before I had personally admired.

I saw friends and family members going through difficult times: long-term relationships ending, financial troubles, health problems and even deaths. Fans of mine confided much the same at conventions. It seemed difficult to ignore. Something was wrong. It seemed to permeate everything. There was a dark cloud over 2016, and it threatened to swallow all of us, or at least our minds and our spirits.

And then, this past week, aside from the Electoral College thing, my co-workers and I received even more bad news at my teaching job (and it’s leaving one hell of a bitter taste in my mouth–as if the previous goings-on hadn’t already), a second cat died, I was sick and suffered a diverticulitis attack (simultaneously), and someone close to me had a considerable and frightening health scare. It began to be difficult to see much good in anything, and it made my web-comic, Gentleman Cthulhu, difficult to write.

Though I would be remiss if I wrote nothing positive about the past year. After all, the Rosarium Publishing crowdfunding campaign was successful, and in the scope of that campaign, I personally sold quite a few Chadhiyana books. I finished Chadhiyana #5 which, for me, has been a breakthrough and inspired some edits I wish to make to the previous content of the book–you’ll all see why soon enough. In light of that, my publisher agreed to something which I’m thrilled about (but about which I’ll have to keep silent for a little while longer).

Gentleman Cthulhu sold outIn the past year, I successfully launched an online store after years of debating it, and all but finished preparations for a Patreon page. I found out that Chadhiyana has a very engaged fanbase, and (unsurprisingly) so does Gentleman Cthulhu. In fact, the first Gentleman Cthulhu collection sold out at New York Comic Con! I was approached for more private commissions this year than any previous year (and I love doing these). I had the opportunity to hang out with many of the Rosarium artists and authors three times this year (and once online), and had a great time every time.

I finally learned to work faster on my comic pages, without sacrificing quality–improving it even. I also returned to writing prose and a larger project which I had all but abandoned some years back, but which never left my mind (and closely relates to Chadhiyana, as it happens). My second niece was born. My girlfriend and I adopted two very loving cats this year–despite the death of one of them. Dark Souls III and a new Vampire Hunter D story were released (small, geeky things I know, but still they bring some joy and excitement to the year).

So there was a lot of good too, but whether it was the small things (like being terribly ill on Halloween, my favourite holiday, for the first time in my life) or the significant ones (such as continued police shootings and hatred directed at the black community), 2016 was so filled with a relentless repetition of setbacks, heartbreaks, and atrocities, it is difficult to call it a “good year.” Difficult too to enjoy what small victories and joys the year brought.

If I sound uncharacteristically morose, it’s because I am thoroughly exhausted at this point. I feel almost as though this whole year has been (for me) a complete stagnation, creatively and personally. A backward movement even. And yet, I truly believe I had an easier year than most people. For that, I suppose, I count myself fortunate.

I do hope that the following year will be a great one, because we all deserve it after enduring the hardships of 2016. In light of that, I mean to make this next year a good year (in whatever capacity I can). Though I cannot deny there is for me a nagging sense that 2016 was merely a harbinger for what will happen in 2017 (after all, things do not look good in the United States right now). But, if it will be a challenging year again, I suppose 2016 has made me (and all of us, really) stronger for it. I’m better prepared to meet those challenges head on, relentlessly, as I am known to be by those who know me personally.

I only hope in the days following this post I can get sufficient rest to prepare for the coming year. I’ll see you all in the New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one!


  • Anon says:

    I look forward to seeing more of your work in 2017! Please keep your chin up 🙂

    • J. M. DeSantis says:

      Thank you, and don’t worry, I’ll be fine. This too shall pass. And, worse comes to worst, I’ll just channel the emotions into my work (as inevitably happens). Happy New Year! I’ll see you in 2017.

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