I’m floored. Now I know why these syndication contracts are so long…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, I’m all for a bit of self-reflecting. Don’t worry, I’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 “baby” 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, I’ll be a virtual armadillo. NOTHING will penetrate this (or I’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. I’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 I’m onto something here.
3. Appreciation. Not that I’m not ordinarily appreciative. But syndication has made me even more so. I’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. I’m also appreciative of my poor family that reassures me every time I’m on one of my poll-related rollercoaster rides. I’m appreciative of the hard-working syndicate folks, and I’m appreciative of my friends who still like me even though I’ve become an isolated, workaholic hermit with no social skills. Oh, and I’m appreciative of my alone time.
2. Time Management. Not an organized person? Bad with deadlines? Here’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 didn’t know the meaning of “organized” 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 don’t even worry about the deadlines anymore. I should…but I don’t.
1. Requited love. Yes, cartooning is an unstable business. Yes, who knows where newspapers, comics, and my own little “baby” will be in 5 more years. But I can honestly say I’m glad I’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):