So. It’s been awhile.
Longer than I anticipated as a matter of fact. And I’ll tell you why. But that’s getting into a long talk. I’ll understand if you want to skim some of this post.
As you might surmise, I’m a bit obsessed with comics, from both a creative and business stand point, and so I read about the process of making comics whenever I can. In so doing, I’ve also read quite a bit about the process of completing comics from the crazy bastards that have seen projects through to the very end. These exit interviews often share the same sentiment in common: the artist didn’t want the journey to end. Many of these cartoonists have shared that the final installments of their projects, be it comic strip or comic book series, took longer than normal to draw, as if the artist was subconsciously sabotaging the process because they weren’t ready to let their creative baby go yet.
I was so not that guy.
Even now, with four months of introspection at my disposal, I can tell you with all sincerity that when I posted the last OFF CAMPUS comic, I didn’t cry. I didn’t second-guess myself. Nor did I lament that it was over. No, what I experienced was an incredible sense of relief. I was terrified that I wouldn’t finish the strip, and it was that terror that drove me through the last month of the strip’s run. Now admittedly, I did run hot with the last several comics, but that was because I got unexpectedly busy with other stuff, not because I wanted it to take longer. Truth is, I reached mental closure on OFF CAMPUS sometime in 2011 by my reckoning and I was more than ready to move on to other projects; I just had to finish drawing the bastard.
I’ve wondered privately this summer what I would have done if OFF CAMPUS had broken bigger. If it had been generating a liveable wage at the time of its completion, would I have still walked away? Could I have? I don’t know. Some sort of soft reboot would have been in order certainly. I always saw OFF CAMPUS as a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Would I be a sell-out to move it into the never-ending story territory of Blondie or Apt 3G?
I guess it’s kind of a blessing that I didn’t have to make that call.
So end it did, allowing me to begin pursuing those other projects that I alluded to earlier. But first I wanted to take some time away from the grind of semi-daily cartooning to … well, enjoy life again for a bit, as bad as that sounds.
I like to think I did a lot while I was on sabbatical this summer. I played a couple of video games (On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 3 and Heavy Rain, for the curious). Caught up on some reading. Started watching all of the 007 films in anticipation of November’s next installment, Skyfall. Wrote some prose with friends for grins (and to see if I still could write prose after a decade of telling stories with pictures). Went to Walt Disney World. Began work on a sketchbook finally (my efforts are chronicled at my tumblr account).
A six week break became three months. Clearly, I was more burned out than I realized.
But like MacArthur before me, I promised I would return, and returned I have (while I know little of the famed general, I suspect that’s where all similarities betwixt us end). My new comic strip, Fanbase, debuts today. I hope you will all give it a chance. I hope you all like it, but I suspect many of you won’t. For me, Fanbase is a return to editorial-style cartooning, something I haven’t done since my junior high school days; as such, it’s pretty much a complete 180 from what I was doing on OFF CAMPUS.
So if Fanbase isn’t your thing, I’ll understand. But I haven’t come here to bury OFF CAMPUS, but rather to give you hope. OFF CAMPUS was many things, but at its heart, it was always a sitcom. And what do all sitcoms have? Here are some hints:
A Very Brady Christmas. Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. Two and a Half Men: Blood and Sand. (Okay, so I made that last one up, but how awesome would that be? “Madness? THIS. IS. WINNING!”).
In other words, come 2022, assuming I’m not dead or something, there will be an OFF CAMPUS reunion project. What shape it might take … well, fuck if I know; it’s the future, after all. If Blade Runner is to be believed, I might be able to hire a replicant to draw it for me. But rest assured, unless there’s a damn good reason otherwise (the Great Replicant Rebellion of 2017?), it will happen. So there’s that. And there’s the archive too; it will remain up through most of this year at least. At some point, I’ll probably put it behind a pay wall of some sort, but that’s a ways off from now.
As always, thank you. Thank you for reading. And thanks for all the kind words via commments, Twitter, and email that came in over the years. It meant a lot and kept me going when things looked to be at their bleakest.
And watch your asses, will ya? Those goddamn replicants are gonna be everywhere.
Yes, OFF CAMPUS is ending. One final strip, in fact, is all that remains.
And yes, it’s horribly late.
When Austin’s epic fail of a wedding came to an end last month, the main story that drives OFF CAMPUS concluded with it; I knew as I finished that story arc that all that was left was one final sequence of comic strips that would serve as a farewell to our main characters, as well as tie up the last few dangling plot threads that remained.
As I’ve said in the past, when it came time to conclude OFF CAMPUS, it was very important to me that it end as strongly as possible. That’s why the strips were initially a little late on the update this final month; I was simply spending more time on them to make them as good as I possibly could. I had some unforeseen schedule conflicts arise as well, which pushed the last comic into a portion of the month that I had already earmarked for other things. As I type this, the last installment of OFF CAMPUS is roughly halfway pencilled … but I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to complete it. It’s comic book convention season in Texas right now, and I’m going to be in and out of town for a couple of weeks attending various cons for the purposes of networking and just having fun. Right now, it looks like I’m going to be stealing a minute here and there as I’m able to finish drawing the finale to a story I’ve spent the last twelve years of my life working on.
I’m sorry it’s running behind but I hope you’ll stick around for one last go ’round with the OFF CAMPUS crew. As always, thank you for reading.
What I’m Reading: Ultimate Captain America by: Jason Aaron and Ron Garney
What I’m Watching: Mad Men Season 5
What I’m Listening to: “Lightning Crashes” (Live)