Original Release Date: January 19, 2008
This an unusually dirty punchline for Mike and the Ninja. It's not terrible, but definitely out of character.
So, as I mentioned last time, this is the first comic to appear after over a year of inactivity. After working on it on and off for seven years, with no real commitment or plan of action and constant fear that people would never like it, but a definite desire to continue, frustration with the project boiled over. In September or October of 2007, I finally had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself over the future of Mike and the Ninja. It came down to a choice: do it consistently, or quit and move on to something else.
I came up with a plan: develop an outline that would complete the current story, maintain a 1-page-per-week schedule, and collect all the pages into a printed graphic novel once the story was finished.
I dusted off the drawing table, collected all of the spider corpses and Little Caesar's pizza boxes from the floor and tossed those in the yard, and got to work. This had been my longest stretch without drawing any comics, so I had a lot of work to do and had to literally practice to get back into drawing shape. This page is my take on the process. The art styles in the different panels depict how my drawing style actually evolved over the years, from about seven years old until the current day.
The original blog that accompanied this page does a great job of explaining where I was mentally at the time, so here it is.
So, the first new comic strip after my most recent...erm..."vacation"...yes, that will do...contains both metahumor and a weiner joke. As you can see, we're off to a great start here in 2008.
I need to offer you something of an explanation as to why I've been such a bum over the last year or more. Or really, since I started the comic strip, for that matter. Without getting into a big, too personal and too unentertaining sob story, I have my reasons for not being productive. It's not time--I've got time. I've just never learned to use it very well. And it's not because I'm no longer invested in the strip--I enjoy the world I'm putting together and can't just leave these characters in the dust without any resolution.
More than anything else, and I guess the Webcomics Weekly podcast has sort of helped me define this, there's a sort of debilitating fear that goes into committing to this whole webcomics thing. I can no longer do this thing that I do where I create comics for a couple of months, then take a little time off, then make some more comics, then take a year off, etc. At this point, for the strip to be worthwhile both to me and to any readers who may still exist, I have to commit to it and do it regularly. It's kind of like taking up exercise. Or flossing. It requires dedication, which is something I haven't shown yet. And it's scary to make that commitment--scary enough that I've been just as content to do nothing at all, rather than dive right in. You may not think that, considering that it's something that I really enjoy doing. But it requires setting aside time to do the work that goes into it. It requires sacrifice--less video games, less TV, less sleep (I already do this part well), and less time with the ladies (I am also good at this). It requires gumption, research, confidence, and a genuine passion for the art.
There's doubt and anxiety and an immense lack of confidence, too. I let the thought that I may not be good enough stop me from even trying more often than not. I'm afraid that people won't get my jokes, or that my jokes are actually all just rip-offs of other people's jokes. Or that my characters are all just me with different clothing and speech patterns.
I've probably said a lot of this same stuff before. But I can't keep working inconsistently like I have for...well...forever. It's now or never. I'm either going to do this thing or I'm not. And if I manage to do it consistently and it bombs miserably, then I suppose there's nothing stopping me from moving on to a new idea.
Time to get to work.