September 21, 2005

I Celebrated By Working Really Hard
entry, September 21st, 2005

One year ago yesterday I worked my last day at Novell. I had my exit interview, my friend Scott escorted me out to my car, and I entered the dark and frightening world of self-employment.

One year ago today I worked my first day as a professional cartoonist. Sandra and I had three months of living expenses saved up, and more than a few of the people I talked to figured I was just on some sort of sabbatical.

Here we are a year later, and it's not a sabbatical. Finances have been really tight, but with the help of our savings, a couple of windfalls, and some commercial clients the income from Schlock Mercenary has gotten us through.

I celebrated the event by working really, really hard yesterday. It seemed fitting.

There are a lot of people I owe thanks to. At the top of the list is my first commercial customer, Chris Jukes and the guys at Toffa. Then there's my LARGEST commercial customer, Richard Bliss and the guys at GWAVA. The list goes on: Randy and Tony at Loan Toolbox, Jason at some tech company, I forget which, Erno de Korte of GroupWiser, and most recently, Rob Bastiaansen, whose VMWare guide now has half a dozen very nifty humorous illustrations in it.

I can't get away with just thanking my commercial clients, though. Some of you readers have been very, very generous. So generous, in fact, that I still owe a few of you original artwork. It's coming. It's hard, though, trying to draw something that feels to me like it's worth a THOUSAND DOLLARS. Good grief, man. Even when I was sporting a six figure income (only a year ago, but it seems like forever) I couldn't have dropped that kind of change on a cartoonist, whether or not I thought he was a nice guy.

At any rate, thank you. All of you: The tippers, and the shirt-buyers, and the people who buy originals at conventions; the people who buy advertising on the site, and the people who are interested in what gets advertised; the gift-givers who raided our Amazon Wish Lists on our birthdays; you readers who email me to say "hey, I like your comic," and those of you who just read, every day, without fail. I couldn't be doing this without you, and I'm not sure I'd want to be.

And of course, I thank God, in whom all things are possible, and from whom all blessings flow. I stand by the statement I made a year ago: I left Novell because He told me to, and only in hindsight is my human vision good enough to see the outline of the plan He had (and still has) for me.

Enough retrospective. What's coming up? First and foremost, we'll shortly be launching the Schlocktroops Officers' Corps. Simply put, it will be a rewards program for you zealots out there bent on infecting your friends with Schlock Mercenary.

Then there's the convention schedule. Scroll down past the end of this missive and you'll see it. Coming right up, in just over a week, Linucon 2.0. Linucon 1.0 was the first convention I attended after leaving Novell. Coming back and celebrating a year of freedom with my friends, fans, and fellow miscreants (Hi, Steve! Hi, Troy!) in Austin seems far too appropriate for me to have ever considered doing anything else. If you live in the area, you don't want to miss it. And hey, free sketches.

A week later, Revoluticon 1.0 happens in Asheville, North Carolina, with me as a Guest of Honor. A week after that, Celebrating the Art of Comics, a one-day mini-con at the UVS Woodbury Art Museum.

Further out, there are other conventions, new merchandise on the way (yes, we're still planning on dead-tree releases), and a major site re-design. There's a lot of work to be done, but hey, I'm a professional. I'll just, you know... sit down and DO it.

This time last year, Sandra and I had a three-month plan. Now we have a one-year plan, and quite a bit more confidence that we can pull it off. And on that note, one more word of thanks: Thank you, Sandra, for marrying an artist, and knowing how to help him BE an artist again, even after the decade he spent forgetting.