January 9th, 2017
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Stripped naked and desolate in the street, we scrambled to climb our way back up to the perch of the castle we ended 2015 at, only this time with a better view and a sturdier foundation. 2016 proved our mettle and more so, it proved us right. As frickin tough as the road was, it was the RIGHT road and now we are more solidly us than we’ve been in years, maybe ever. The vision of what IHEARTCOMIX was meant to be has congealed. 2016 brought us to our final destination and now we move into this new year, fist raised and ready to roll.

2016 felt like the year it all came together, but in the way you might win a fight, not without a couple bruises.

2016 was not easy, not by along shot.  It was an at times miserable year filled with quite extraordinary redeeming moments that began as a shit monster, and even as things got better in the back half of the year, got tougher in terms of time and the toll it took on the team. It was a fight for survival and an even bigger fight to be ourselves and succeed (which we did). We knocked down some big doors this year in terms of coming into our own and standing behind our creativity, that’s what I’m most proud of.

Coming out of 2015 we were pretty sure of ourselves in terms of the choices we’d made and the direction we were headed. “No More Shows” was the mantra and that felt like the best choice. Everything else was gonna come together. We’d worked the whole year setting up a new life and then the whole winter break getting ready. 2016 was gonna start with a bang and that it did, but not the one we expected. That bang was our head hitting the floor as life stuck it’s foot out in front of us.

Within the first 3 weeks of the year most of the big plans were thrown out of the window. We lost an employee and the company we shared our office space with broke their lease, leaving a big gap for us to deal with. All the while, the new direction wasn’t peachy immediately either. It took the first half of the year to really get on our feet. It’s not just wanting to change gears that makes it happen, but you have to break old habits, learn new skills and build the relationships that make it matter. We felt like we were getting tossed hot goals in the middle of the fight of our life. While exciting to do something new, the lack of guarantee of success pushed us to limits we’d never felt before.

This year wasn’t easy for a lot of reasons (personal icon deaths not withstanding), but it wasn’t unforgiving either. With a little perspective it revealed that initial spiral was important. I felt one of my first true tests of running a business, I had to make some tough choices. So, I cut. I sliced big. That family I had built in 2015 and that big plan we had going into 2016 wasn’t enough. Just switching the direction on the surface wasn’t enough either. Everything had to be re-done from the ground up. Who knows how the year would have played out if we hadn’t had those initial set backs, but those weren’t the cards we were dealt and it was my duty to make sure we survived.

All this happened around May/June. We came back from a busy few months ending with FORM: Arcosanti, a festival we became a part of, and I took a look at the books and what we had coming up and I came to a realization: We’re fucked. The almost half a year of eating double rent, being a couple men down (at this point) and generally being busy trying to land new work took it’s toll. No longer could these issues wait to be addressed and it was obvious they weren’t going to fix themselves. If we were to survive, they needed to be addressed NOW.

That was a hard choice. From an outside view things looked hunky dory, but inside there was a massive clearing of the plate. It was time to solve problems: Fix the office. Find the right help. Land jobs. New website. Be ourselves. Redefine everything. Let some people go.

(This is the part of the movie where things starts to turn around for the hero after everything seemingly goes to shit.)

We got to work. While hard to pull the trigger on, I knew the choice was the right one. It was next to impossible to take the steps that were needed while also maintaining the old (even not that old) order. Once done, it was a huge relief and things came together rather quickly after that.

Gaping hole in the office? No prob. We created a shared office space with individual desks for rent called IHC HQ. This opened up worlds for us introducing IHC to a group of new, amazing people who not only brought a refreshed energy to the office but a much needed lifting of the daily burden.

Land jobs? Got it. Once we’d gotten through the first few months of the year fumbling around, we began to get pretty good at this way of looking at the world. We perfected the pitch and figured out the true needs of what it takes to pull off a project to completion. Dare I say, we crossed the line into some real pro shit.

New Website? We got right to work. You don’t it yet, but we’ve spent the last 9 months rebuilding THIS WEBSITE from scratch (maybe you are looking at it that was now? Maybe Now??). This was an important choice on so many levels. Since we’ve evolved over these past couple years, there isn’t a place where those ideas are addressed adequately. Also, and this was the toughest part, we had to cut back on the editorial. It wasn’t working, not on the scale it needed to. There is something new launching soon. Hope you like it.

Redefine everything? If you’re gonna build a new website, you gotta start somewhere and that’s figuring out what you wanna say and who you are. This was a HUGE task because we had to figure this out for now and the future. An enormous amount of time in 2016 was dedicated to unraveling the spool of ideas and laying the bricks of our future starting with the deepest foundations. You’ll see.

Find the right help? Well, that’s been the slower road, but now that we’ve created all the infrastructure we’re getting right on that. Jesus, Jacob and Inge, love you guys. Jackie, Isabelle, Eddie, Jasmine and Sean, thank you for your help this year.

Beyond all that internal struggle, soul searching AND all the actual work we did, there was still one major accomplishment we achieved and that was just being us. As frickin’ tough all that deep shit was, we created, created and created. We spent more time this year working on ideas that were our own and being able to survive off that then ever before. It’s probably actually the first time that has ever happened! And even cooler, when people were hiring us to do stuff for them, guess what they wanted? Us to be creative for them too! All we’ve ever wanted to be is artists. Trained, professional, smart, entrepreneurs but ARTISTS.

While the steps we took at the end of 2015 remain (very much so), 2016 made us stronger than ever in our determination and resolve to push forward into 2017 having felt some vindication that we’ve chosen the path that suits us most. We are nearing the end of fighting a two-front war of the internal and external, time will tell how these next 12 months will play out, but I for one am excited to see where it takes us and what we can do when all of our focus is on forward.  We are finally home, and that is why 2016 is the year or our final destination.

xoxo

Franki Chan

RIP Gian Molina. We lost a member of our IHC family this year. You will always be our Santa Claus.