Technical Humor – No Exceptions
The curtain closes
When I first published “Pirates of the Compiler” back in December 2010, I really didn’t know how far this would go. It wasn’t until March or April of this year that I realized that I was still coming up with lines to parody, and I was having fun doing it. At that point, I still didn’t see an end to it.
But something happened around May of this year. The comics stopped being fun. They had turned into work.
When I first started doing these, I’d hit Friday night and couldn’t wait to start the next comic. Some weekends I’d get the entire thing done that night; other weekends I had it done by Saturday. I loved showing the rough drafts to CJ and welcomed her suggested improvements. The overwhelming majority of the time, her modifications made the difference between “meh” and “awesome!”
The comics since May, however, were taking me well into the following week. More than once I found myself staying up later than I wanted Tuesday night, or even Wednesday, trying to get that week’s comic out. I wasn’t able to prioritize them during the weekend evenings like I was before, so I put them off until Sunday/Monday. At which point I was really feeling the pressure to get them done in time. I also found myself upset I had put them off. I now found myself annoyed with every critique or suggestion from CJ – not because they were wrong or bad, but because it meant more work for me. By the time I got them posted, it was nearly time to start the next one – whereas before I’d have several days of breather in between, now I was getting maybe two.
It was after my 2-week break in June, I decided that I would run the comic out for a year – 52 comics in all – and then call it quits. I decided that if I wasn’t having fun, there was no reason I should feel the need to continue.
Last night, though, while trying to finish up “Get ready for the sprint”, things really came to a head. CJ said that Baby Doll needed her skirt and blouse – she needed a costume – HER costume. CJ was right, of course, but what I felt was anger and resentment that I would need to spend at least another hour drawing those. She saw how upset I was getting, and suggested that I should stop where I was, and pick it up tomorrow. I responded, rather hotly, than I couldn’t because I wouldn’t have time to get it done tomorrow (I had another commitment this evening, and knew I would be mentally drained by the time I got home). Her response was “Then it doesn’t get done tomorrow.”
I snapped. I took off my glasses, threw them on the desk, and buried my head in my hands. CJ realized I had turned a corner and the very thin thread I had my temper on wasn’t going to take anything else. She backed way off and let me be, which was the absolute best thing she could have done right then – did I mention my wife of 15 years knows me pretty well?.
I alternated staring at the inside of my hands and at my computer screen for several minutes, trying to calm down. I was also trying to decide if I really wanted to push my luck by finishing the comic in that sitting. I finally decided that yes, I wanted to get it done right then, if for no other reason than I wouldn’t have it waiting for me tonight. I put my glasses back on and finished it. I didn’t let CJ see the final cut, nor did I do a final review myself (both of which were departures from the standard operating procedure). I just saved it out and shut my computer down. This morning, however, I found a handful of problems with it – ones that I couldn’t let slide. I fixed them and got it published.
And so, I’m done. It’s not how I would have preferred it to end (somewhat bitterly), but if I keep trying to get to 52 in my current state of mind, I’ll REALLY come to resent it – the idea, the comic characters, the process, the whole shebang.
As I look back on the past 9 months, I am tremendously proud of what CJ and I turned out. Even “Get ready for the sprint”, less a day old now, looks good. The flair of Baby Doll’s skirt and especially how her hair turned out, were the big hurdles with this one, and I think they turned out quite well.
At the end of it, I guess that’s the ultimate judge of how CJ and I did. There isn’t any of the 36 comics that I could point to and say “you know, I shouldn’t have taken that short cut there; the comic suffered as a result.” I certainly learned a tremendous amount in terms of blocking, drawing, lighting, and shading, and I could certainly go back to the older ones and improve upon them with my current knowledge if I were so inclined. But I can say that about any skill I develop and use over a period of months or years. You SHOULD be better now than you were 6 months ago.
The title of this post should not be taken to be my final answer, though. I may pick the series up again down the road. I’ve even toyed around with some other outlets for the Dude – a wider scope for the types of jokes I can tell (not just parodying movie lines and scenes), or even a graphic novel/comic book. For now, the Dude – not to mention CJ and I – get a hard-earned rest.