When I was in elementary school, one of my many career aspirations was to become a syndicated newspaper cartoonist. I had comic idea after comic idea—Bernard the awful dog! Snakes, a comic about snakes! An epic fantasy comic with sword-wielding wolves! I wasted a great deal of paper on those.
Even at the time, my goal was unattainable. Opening up a newspaper these days reveals the exact same comic strips I read back then and wanted to imitate; in fact, many of the same comic strips that ran in the 1970s remain. A lot of these are legacy cartoons: Bill Keene’s son draws Family Circus, new B.C. strips come out of the estate, Charles Schultz is dead but Peanuts is a mainstay–at least no one has taken over drawing Peanuts because ack. The old strips have enough nostalgic cachet to continue whether the creator is alive or not, but newspapers have no incentive to pick up new strips and don’t have much room for them in the already-crowded comics pages.
One childhood dream stomped dead. The Funnies pages had their heyday in the 90s and rapidly lost relevance at the turn of the millennium.
Webcomics picked up the slack in a big way. They allowed a burst of daily/weekly/monthly comics outside the syndication process and without the need for self-censorship or broad appeal. You’d think this would resurrect my childhood dream. Briefly, it did.
This blog began as a place to throw up all the silly comics I drew during undergrad for the world to see. None of what I drew could have ever achieved syndication. I didn’t put much effort into them, for one thing, just scrawling away with a .5 mm technical pen on cheap yellow paper pads from the dollar store. I didn’t even have a scanner; I photographed the things so I could post them long after I’d accumulated a full sheave. My comics included obscure history jokes, Lovecraft references, bizarre premises, overt cruelty and violence, bad taste, strange characters like Beowulvarine, and some of them just…weren’t…that…funny. In the end, I moved on to writing articles because more people seemed to appreciate those over a university hobby born of too little sleep. Plus, I didn’t have any more of the old comics left to share.
They did help, though (to indulge in some irrelevant and indulgent blog history). Weirdly enough, the comics built up a small audience because anything can build a small audience on the internet, I guess. By the time I started writing for the site I wasn’t just screaming at the ether for attention and getting none. I had people to actually write for. Even odder, the people who followed the comic were also the sort of folks who found the articles interesting.
For those few who’ve followed this blog from its comic-centred beginnings: thank you for reading my various ramblings. I haven’t fulfilled my childhood cartoonist dreams, but this was the better route for me anyhow.