In August 2018, I heard back from my cardiologist. I had finished my 6 month checkup and he found another aortic aneurysm. On top of that, my defective aortic valve was starting to fail. That sent me into a tailspin of depression: I was going to have to have open heart surgery again.
Christmas Time is Here Again
I was able to take a couple weeks off for Christmas. It was one of those rare times in agency life where clients weren’t reaching out leading up to the holidays. So I took some time off and finished the artwork for The Walk. If there was one thing I wanted to do before I died, it was to finish that damn comic. It’s now with a colorist, coming to life.
See? I thought I was going to die
I don’t know why this diagnosis hit me so hard, but it did. I was fatalistic about my odds. I’m not sure why – maybe because this time I knew what survival would entail and I was not looking forward to it.
Here’s the thing though (which I kept forgetting): I’m going to live.
O Con Expo Suddenly Arrived
The former O ComicCon had me back as a guest. It’s the only con I do anymore. I sometimes think about doing more, but it isn’t the same as it was when I was younger. Cons used to be about comic books. Now they are more about pop culture, which just happens to be “nerd culture.” Which is fine, I guess. Things evolve. There are more fans of “crap I like” than I ever would have imagined when I was an awkward 12 year old in the summer of 1989. O Con Expo is a great attraction to the area and the local crowds are always excited to visit and wander the con. That’s more than enough for me to keep showing up.
After doing the con for three years, I realized that I had a lot of fans who were looking for new work. And I didn’t have anything new.
Let’s go to Seattle
I had the opportunity to go to Seattle at the unofficial end of summer: Memorial Day weekend. Sometimes it’s great to get out of your environment and it had been awhile since I traveled anywhere. I stayed in the Ballard area and was able to get away and draw for a time in coffee shop. I was working on my Seven Days strip only on my iPad Pro. And I noticed that I was having fun. Which is not something that happens when I draw. I did some digital illustrations for Hail Varsity magazine a month earlier, and that was fun also. That process left me thinking about going digital again.
And why not? The Walk took me 7 years to finish drawing (minus two surgeries). I was able to work on my Seven Days strip wherever and whenever I wanted with ease. I didn’t need my drawing table or my inks and brushes and nibs. I only needed my iPad. It was an eyeopener. Not only did I have a lot of fun drawing again, but I enjoyed the whole process start to finish. On top of that, it was fast. Faster than I’ve been working in a long time.
Once we got through winter, and I started to think “what if you live?”, I started walking again. I’m supposed to walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes at least. I slacked off on that for a bit. Partially because my knee needed time to heal after having a giant bone removed from it. But I started back up. I’ve been walking every chance I can get. I’m clocking in at 14-28 miles a week now. I enjoyed my time to let my mind wander while walking. I thought about stories, and what I wanted to do with comics and the rest of my life. And I got to reflect on my journals. A theme that kept coming up was how much I enjoyed regular output from webcomics.
I started off this 2019 depressed and desperate to at least finish one comic, and I did that. And then I spent the rest of the year waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve had one ER trip this year already, where I was suffering from some unexplained chest pains. And I’ve had a couple of other scary moments. But I can’t wait around to die. And I’m not going to die. Hell, I may even put this surgery off for years if I’m lucky. So I’m going to keep taking care of myself and find something to do.
- I’m working behind the scenes every night on three comics that will start production soon.
- I’ve also built my own webcomics plugin for WordPress. I doubt I’ll ever release it to the public as a piece of software you can buy. But I’ll share my process here as a future blog post. It’s not hard, and someone else could take what I did and move the needle on it.
- On top of all this, I’m building an online store out.
- I’m moving to Patreon.
Patreon really is what got all this moving. In order to have a Patreon, I needed new content. So I had to build a platform for the new comics, hence the plugin. The store was just something that needed to be done. There will always be a free comic to read on this site moving forward. I will also have two new, exclusive comics going on for Patreon subscribers. I’m excited to share all these new things with you, before 2020.