Iâ€™m floored. Now I know why these syndication contracts are so longâ€¦no one tells you how fast the time really flies. This 5-year milestone of Pajama Diaries is a big deal. Probably because I worked my butt off for twice that amount of time to get said contract. To mark this occasion, Iâ€™m all for a bit of self-reflecting. Donâ€™t worry, Iâ€™ll try to keep it brief.
In honor of the 5-year mark, here are the TOP 5 things that syndication has taught me:
5. Gut-wrenching heartache. Forget unrequited love. Having your creative â€œbabyâ€ stomped on, critiqued, and pummeled in the polls is an emotional rollercoaster. For every year of syndication, my skin has grown another layer of armor. If I hit the 10-year mark, Iâ€™ll be a virtual armadillo. NOTHING will penetrate this (or Iâ€™ll at least be able to curl up into an armored ball).
4. The power of catharsis. I display much of my own personality in the strip. Iâ€™m totally exposed: the good, bad and just plain daft. PD is essentially a diary within a diary. Traditional therapy is expensive, but this is pays ME. Maybe Iâ€™m onto something here.
3. Appreciation. Not that Iâ€™m not ordinarily appreciative. But syndication has made me even more so. Iâ€™m appreciative of the readers who write to me, of the editors that pick up the strip, and especially of the editors that continue to run it after the obligatory week-long trial run. Iâ€™m also appreciative of my poor family that reassures me every time Iâ€™m on one of my poll-related rollercoaster rides. Iâ€™m appreciative of the hard-working syndicate folks, and Iâ€™m appreciative of my friends who still like me even though Iâ€™ve become an isolated, workaholic hermit with no social skills. Oh, and Iâ€™m appreciative of my alone time.
2. Time Management. Not an organized person? Bad with deadlines? Hereâ€™s the answer: get a syndication deal! Suddenly the daily deadlines will force you to become type A! Actually, I already am, so this is a well-suited job. Even so, I really didnâ€™t know the meaning of â€œorganizedâ€ until my launch. That was quite an awakening. But I made it…even with small children in tow. Now I feel like I can pretty much conquer the world. I donâ€™t even worry about the deadlines anymore. I shouldâ€¦but I donâ€™t.
1. Requited love. Yes, cartooning is an unstable business. Yes, who knows where newspapers, comics, and my own little â€œbabyâ€ will be in 5 more years. But I can honestly say Iâ€™m glad Iâ€™m here NOW. I have that contented feeling of someone who is doing exactly what he/she is meant to do (or has the illusion of it, anyway). I really love being a comic strip creator, and I hope to continue this career path indefinitely. And yes, there have been bumps in the road. But overall this job has given me more than I ever thought it would. Isn’t that what a meaningful relationship is about?
My debut strip, March 27, 2006:
Annnd March 27, 2011 (click on image to rotate vertically):