Thanks to everyone who voted for Super U. in the TWC100! I think the best position we held was number 602. That might not sound great, but you have to consider that there are something like 16,000 webcomics listed on the TWC100, so we actually did really well! I had thought that the rank would reset after the 30 days, but it hasn't! Actually, now I'm not quite so sure why they had a 30 day limit to begin with. So I'm going to leave the button up there, in case you feel like clicking on something.
There was a bit more I wanted to do with this one, but I ran out of time! I think the strip following this one is the last of these before things carry on as usual, though I may need to squeeze in one more.
So, I posted this on my personal FB page, but if you didn't see it, check it out. In short, it's a comic strip done in the style of Bill Watterson (personal hero), using words Bill Watterson spoke to a college graduating class somewhere around 1990. For those of you who don't know, Bill quit drawing comics and basically dropped off the face of the Earth, much due to being pressured to merchandise his stuff, and what's more, there were all those unofficial Calvin pissing on logo stickers going around that he had no control over. He was super-critical of Jim Davis and Charles Schultz for their extreme merchandising.
It was circulating the internet quite a bit, and I saw some debates get heated about it among the people I follow on Twitter, most of whom are comic artists. The conversation turned to merchandising as a form of selling-out as an artist. Some called Watterson a hypocrite, because he made tons and tons of money off his book compilations.
When I read this particular strip, I almost cried, because it is 100% me in every way.
I agree it was easy for Watterson to focus on the work he loved because his steady paycheck and his books earned him a butt-load of money, though I do notice this speech was given before he had made a lot of that money. Adversely, I also recognize that while Garfield and Peanuts were marketed and merchandise to all Hell, the strips themselves remained strong.
I don't want to have ads on my site, nor am I particularly fond of selling books and merchandise. I would love for this site to be about the strip and nothing but the strip. Unfortunately, my wife and I are not in a position for me to do that. Certainly I don't bring in much income anymore these days, and we now rely almost solely upon her job to support us, but we're not yet at a point where we can say we are living "comfortably." In fact, it's still rather hard to get by. I'd like to say if and when that day comes, I can get rid of all the silly non-essential elements of my page and focus solely on the work I love.
More importantly, I long ago realized about myself that I cannot feel fulfilled in a job unless I am creating artwork. My attempts at making a profit off of what I do are only a means to an end, and I certainly don't think I'm selling-out by doing so. It's more important to me to have an audience for my comic than it is to make a profit off of it.
More importantly than that, though, I am working towards a life of fulfillment, and for me that won't come from a regular, steady job. What I want, and need, is to focus on my comic, take care of my wife and daughter and help to feed my family. I want to build toward a life for us where the income doesn't even matter anymore, because we can grow our own food and surround ourselves with things that truly matter, like family and nature. Living "comfortably" doesn't have to mean making enough money to buy the things you need and want. It only means not having to worry about food on your plate, having a roof over your head and thriving in an environment you love; everything else is non-essential.
There are many, many people who would look at the life I lead now, and the one I am building toward, and shake their heads. Sometimes, I'm even ashamed of myself, though I know that's only the social pressure caused by my not performing a role dictated as "regular" and "successful." In my experience, "regular" and successful" seldom go along with "happy," and life is too short to be anything but happy. Am I happy now? No, far from it. But I can see a way, and a time, that I will be.