John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Cartooning Thoughts

Well ... um ... ouch. GPF just got what I would refer to as something of a reluctant bloodletting on Websnark, and whenever I see something like this, it inevitably leads me to thoughts on my own shortcomings. I don't know how Jeff will react to it, or even if he will at all, but as he's a friend of mine, I am doing something of a cringe on his behalf. This is not a flame or a gratuitous slam, this is a detailed and well-reasoned cry of pain from somebody who wants to like the strip, but has just come to the conclusion that they can't. I've been on both sides of that equation before.

As I say, this leads me to reflect on my own shortcomings in the cartooning arena. It's a tough racket, even for people who do it as their day job. There's always another strip due tomorrow; there's always room to improve your artwork; there's always site maintenance to do; there's always the need to promote, to schmooze, to work on merchandising, or even to just make some actual progress on your next book.

In short, doing a comic strip is punishing. Cartoonists are prone to depression and many have committed suicide. Many, if not most cartoonists harbor dreams and fantasies of putting down the pen and never picking it back up, and maybe burning down the house just to make sure they are never tempted to sit at the drawing table again. It's really more like an addictive behavior than most of us would like to admit, our own bizarre drug that we take in small, daily doses.

One of the reasons there are so many hiatuses out there is because it feels sooooo gooood to put the pen down for a while ... it's like Atlas handing off the vault of heaven to Hercules. For a couple of days, or a week, or even a month you can do things like "sit and watch TV" or "read a book" or that rarity of rarities, "go to bed on time!" It's FREEDOM! But after a few days of decompressatory bliss, you get that nagging feeling in the back of your mind, a strange emptiness that only seems to be filled when you start coming up with funny things for Character A to say to Character B, or a neat situation that would really step on your protagonist's toes, or some great twist that nobody would see coming, but makes perfect sense. Then, before you know it, you've pulled out the bristol and the blue pencil, and hoisted up the sky again.

I have a long list of stuff I owe to people; I owe thirdhorse a commission. I owe spikedpunch a commission. I owe a half-dozen people badges. I owe cameo winners their appearances. I owe David Allen the files for Tough Breaks. I need to commune with higginsdragon and see if we can't find some way to get NeverNever back on track. I've got to do all of this while keeping the strip running M-W-F, putting up something on Saturdays, going to my day job, attending Kung Fu class, and actually being a semi-decent husband to laurie_robey. It's daunting sometimes, it really is. But I keep doing it.

-The Gneech
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