I have a tendency to sometimes run a joke into the ground… not just through the ground but all the way to the other side of China, in fact. And sometimes, when I run this joke into the ground on one of my Facebook friend’s wall, I get the typical reaction of “shouldn’t you be drawing a strip?”. To be honest, I have gone to Beat Up Joke Anonymous meetings and have tried my best from falling off the dead joke wagon.
But lately, I’ve been getting a similar type of reply by another Facebook friend who’s closer to me than some of my relatives. Those replies don’t have anything to do with a mutilated and beat up joke. It, instead, has to do with getting sucked into the current political climate. The funny thing is both these guys are absolutely great to be around. We just can’t always talk online because we tend to have wildly different view points on a lot of different things. What’s even funnier is we can have the same discussions in person and everything is fine. But have them online and it usually never turns out good – no matter what any of our intentions are.
So lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a wide assortment of things… whether it’s the current state of the strip, what’s currently going on in the US, how social media and Facebook is playing a role in it and how I can take up the advice of my two Facebook friends and be more productive with my time.
It’s a simple thing to just say “draw more strips” but there’s more complication than just sitting down and drawing. And thus, The State of The Strip…
When I hit my 1,000th strip and decided to take a break, it was both the best thing and the worst thing I could do. After seven years of nearly always posting something every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 95% of the time, even though I couldn’t admit it, I was burnt out. It was getting harder to come up with new ideas, it was getting harder to be consistently funny (okay, TRYING to be consistently funny) plus it was getting a lot harder to DRAW. That had to do with the cyst that I detailed in a previous post and how it was making my hand numb after only a few minutes of drawing. Used to be I could draw for hours and then suddenly I could only draw for short burst at a time.
All of that lead to a much longer break than I intended and then I got a new job working at the US State Department helping to redesign all the US Embassy websites around the world. Fantastic job but it was time consuming – especially the commute. In the evenings, I would come home and the last thing I wanted to do was to draw and so I didn’t. Except when I had commissions here or there. Or I had to prepare for various conventions – which I still attend. But the daily three strip a week grind? Nope, didn’t want anything to do with it. Still loved all the characters. Roy was with me every convention I went to but going through the process of writing, drawing, inking, scanning, coloring, posting writing a blog, promoting it on social media and buying ads to do the same… the spark just wasn’t there. The hand and wrist were feeling great but idea-wise, I had… nothing… and the guilt kept growing. Especially when I would talk about it on the Webcomic Alliance podcast.
I had no intention of ending the strip. I just couldn’t get it started again.
A large part of that was because, soon after starting the State Department job, I tried to force myself into a pretty ambitious story arch that just petered out and I had no idea how to get the strip back on track. I literally created myself into a corner and had no way out. It was only recently that it suddenly occurred to me that there are no “rules”. I make the rules up in Capes & Babes so I could, literally, do anything I wanted and could figure out an explanation for it later.
And I have figured a way out of my little problem. Some of that has been hinted at at the first new strips I have done in ages concerning Roy. That will be revealed in due time. No lie. The strips are already fully, 100% completed. I just haven’t posted them yet.
But getting back to where we are today… taking my Facebook friends advice… I decided to heed their advice – but maybe not in the way they expected or possibly wanted. Instead of wasting endless and needless time discussing (and arguing) on Facebook about certain political things I couldn’t control even if I wanted to, I’m going to try and use some of that frustrated energy (and viewpoints) and put them in the strip. I have done this in the past here and there so it shouldn’t be anything new to long time readers. But for anyone who has discovered me in the last year or so – either through Facebook, a convention or somewhere else, you should be aware of the following:
Although Capes & Babes started out as a humorous strip (or tried to be, anyway), I never intended it to always be just a humor strip. There was a very subconscious and specific reason why I put a werewolf in the strip. Once I realized why I had a werewolf in the strip, there was also a very calculated move to soon add a female vampire to the strip and to form a relationship between Roni and Roy. For all intents and purposes, they are in a mixed relationship. There is prejudice from Roni’s brother that Roy constantly has to deal with. Likewise, even though I haven’t really done a blatant job at coming right out and saying this, but Al and I.R. Hungre have become way more than just an Alien and an Zombie. It’s been extremely subtle but if you go through the archives with strips featuring I.R. Hungre and Al, maybe you’ll see it.
Likewise, all the werewolves in Capes & Babes deal with society looking at them suspiciously and Marc has had to inadvertently deal with saying the wrong thing to a werewolf… sometimes with comedic results and sometimes with serious ramifications. In the past, I always tried to walk a VERY tight tightrope when dealing with things of this nature. I was trying to build a following and was always afraid of pissing people off. You never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get when you decide to do things that touch on politics, race, religion or anything else going on in society. I still don’t like to piss people off. Even on Facebook, I try my best to listen to the “other side” even though I am not always successful.
For me though, there is currently a lot of hatred out there. Everyone also seems to feels absolutely justified for all the hate they are showing. And we can argue all day and all night about who is right, who is wrong, who’s rights are being violated, who’s aren’t, who’s instigating, who’s not… I don’t pretend to have any answers here. I know how I wish things could be and tried to reflect that on Facebook and other places only to be hit with more frustration. And then it FINALLY hit me… why be frustrated with a world I can’t fix when I am already in control of a world I can fix? At least for a little while.
I can’t promise many of you are going to enjoy the next few brand new Capes & Babes strips… but ALL of you will be more than welcomed and free to share your comments, complaints, thoughts or anything else in the comments section. If you want.