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December 30, 2016

Today's Comic

So Long, Year Fifteen

December 30, 2016

Where to begin?

First off, the Curtain Call Kickstarter was successful. It went from being at just half the required funding a week before deadline to being almost $20,000 overfunded. Thank you all for spreading the work and backing it. Now I have to finish a lot of cards, but there's worse thing than getting to draw for a living. I'm pretty excited.

Also, I'll be at Albuquerque Comic Con selling at an artist table Jaunary 13th through 15th, 2017. I don't know what the table number is because they haven't given me that info.

So... yeah. I made the last Rory comic the official ending to Year Fifteen. I actually had more planned - nothing comic altering (no one dies, no major revelations) but I've been so damn sick I just realized it was a good place to stop. I'd wanted to do something special for the end of Year Fifteen but, well, my health had other plans. That's been sort of the theme for this year, really.

I used to do a state of the comic at the end of the year. I sorta fell off of it because of time. I feel like I need to do one this year, though. It's also sort of a State of Randy, I guess. This year (as I mentioned a couple of days ago) has been full of health problems - a couple directly affecting my ability to draw. That is one of my nightmares, and getting to experience it twice was nerve-wracking. That slowed the comic down and caused gaps in the archive. Then there was assorted family stuff and being depressed which didn't help. You may notice I'm not giving a lot of details. That's because I know if I give too much information, some well meaning but completely off people will start slinging a lot of well-meaning but misguided advice and while it's nice to be cared about, there's I'm so frazzled after this year I'm pretty sure I'd fucking snap at the next suggestion.

I should add, as far as the comic itself it concerned, I'm actually happier with it now than I've ever been content-wise and art-wise, which makes everything else sort of more frustrating. I still love drawing it. I still love writing it. I'm still glad I took the chance to quit my dayjob after daring you all to pay a year of my salary (something, over a decade later, I can't believe I tried). I have no interest in ending it anytime soon, but who knows? In a year, I may be screaming, "AND NOW I KILL THEM ALL AND START A NEW COMIC!" But I'm guessing the comic will likely be making it to at least Year Twenty, barring something major.

This was also the year a lot of you learned I was married. That was... interesting. The overall reaction was, "Wait, what?" coupled with, "Congrats!" And to those folks, I thank you. There were a few angry, "How dare you not tell us!" coupled with, "I'm not reading anymore", to which I say, "thank you" as well because anyone who pulls that is probably an asshole I want nothing to do with. And, of course, a couple of folks used it as a reason to overstep boundaries - considering it came out in a comic where I talked about readers overstepping boundaries, that's a whole lot of "special." But, seriously, thank you all for the well-wishes. And a special thanks to Dragon's Lair Comics in Austin, because that's where Stephanie and I met at one of the Webcomic Rampages. Danielle and Jeph watched us meeting. Not gonna lie. It was pretty damned adorable.

A few readers asked why I never really said anything. I know a lot of cartoonists are pretty open about such things. Truthfully, I used to be, too. But I'm not anymore. And I guess that gets to something else that's been bothering me. I don't really talk to you all, my readers, much anymore. I mean, I respond to tweets. I see you at conventions and I love doing it. But, between the years of 2009 and 2011, there were a slew of just really, REALLY horrible interactions and occurances that made it really harder to interact with people. I can't really get into all of it in a single blog post but some of it was reader entitlement, where you have readers who feel they are owed access to you and your life because they read your work. Honestly, some of the worst, most bizarre freak-outs I've dealt with came from people who felt I'd betrayed them because of some conversation we had in their head or I didn't give them the storyline resolution they felt they were owed (or, apparently, not sending them an invite to a wedding ceremony that never took place). Some of it was a lot of the overstepping bounds I've already mentioned (seriously, don't look up a cartoonist's ex-girlfriend's info and then come to a convention said cartoonist is at saying you've decided you're going to help them get back together). There's a perceived familiarity that happens online sometimes where people feel they know you better than they really do, and have (or should have) more access to you than they do. Again, a lot of it can be very, VERY well-meaning but it can fall apart fast.

It just got a lot harder to interact with people, and I withdrew. I replied to people less and less. I made it really HARD to get in contact with me at time. Mind you, this is the quick version (although it's probably the longest blog post I've done in years) but it was a defense mechanism.

It was necessary in a lot of ways, but I kind of regret it. There are a lot of very wonderful people I don't really get to talk to and I miss out on exchanges with. Truthfully, most of my readership has always been nothing but kind. Hell, I have a shelf full of handmade dolls of my characters, given to me by strangers. People have NAMED THEIR KIDS AFTER MY CHARACTERS! I'm still not sure if I should call protective services on those parents, but it's really flattering. And I know that when those people ask how I am or what's going on, it's not because of weird ulterior motives/possible skin-mask crafting but because they really want to know if I'm okay and do care, even if I'm just a person who's a part of their day for about a minute to a minute and a half. But I had trouble telling who was who and sorta pulled away. I'm sorry about that. I really am.

I'm not saying I'll be better at being in contact in the future, mind you. I'm old now and a creature of habit. But I will try to break it, at least for this moment, to give an honest, if brief, answer to everyone who's asked how I am or what's going on in my life or how my family is and usually gets some weird, mumbling non-committal answer. So you finally have a couple of real answers, this is what's going on right now:

My family is as fine as can be expected. Dad is almost 82. He's having all the health problems you'd expect. No, he doesn't have Alzheimer's. No, my mom isn't dead. My sister's well. Things could always be better, but they're okay.

My wife is doing well. We've been married a few years now. It's easily the healthiest relationship I've ever been in. We laugh a lot. Usually at each other. But right now we're both sick, although she seems to be faring better than me.

The cats are well. Odine has to eat prescription food and is a bit of an asshole about it. We will not be getting a fourth cat, or a dog, until one of these three die. Yes, we've had offers. We've emphatically refused. Three cats is a fuckload of cats for us. Also, if you have pets who don't travel well, see if your area has vets who make housecalls. Ours ended up being cheaper than going into an office and we don't end up with this shit for the next two weeks of our lives.

I am... okay? I spend too much time in my head sometimes. And sometimes I get very lost in there and I could probably spend all day in bed because of it, but I have a little purr-box with one eye who won't allow that and does her best to make me get up. Between her and Stephanie, I usually find a way to slug through. But I don't particularly care to discuss it beyond that.

To people who've asked why I do less conventions: I stopped doing so many cons because it was affecting me in bad ways. I was having non-stop convention nightmares. A reoccuring one was me at a convention across the country that I'd driven to, and on the second day I'd get a call that Stephanie had died and I had to get home immediately because no one could get into the house and the cats were starving to death. Like, I was having variations of that one three or so times a week. In 2013, independent of each other, Danielle, Joel Watson, and Ryan Sohmer all pulled me aside to have a "I'm worried about you" talk over the number of conventions I was doing and how I drove to all of them. As of last year, I started flying to shows over ten hours of driving a way. While I miss seeing folks, it really did help. I really do miss seeing all the cartoonists I know as often as I used to.

That's about it. This is probably more jumbled and confusing than I realize cuz my head it throbbing and leaking snot ("Wait, why is he telling us how he is after saying he stopped doing that?") but there ya go. I'm gonna withdraw into my shell for a bit again and cough myself hoarse. There will be the usual filler comics for the next week or so as I draw cards for Curtain Call and try to get some Year Sixteen S*P comics ready. And, y'know, recover. I hope you're all okay. I hope 2017 is good to you. Thanks for sticking around. I do appreciate it, even though I don't say it often. I miss you all. Well, 99.8% of you. I realize that probably means I one of you was just broken down into a fraction of a person but, c'mon, you know who you are and you know your left knee as a total jerk. -

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