The Blog

State of the Webcomic Address 2012

It's been three weeks since we've started back up so it's time for an explanation.

When I was fifteen, I decided that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a dude who made webcomics.

Flash forward seven years to October 2010. I'd just graduated from college with a certificate in web design, and Cheer Up, Emo Kid is booming. Over 3k unique visits per day, hundreds of likes and comments per strip, up to a million pageviews a month, people demanding books and shirts and other merchandise and junk. Everything seemed to be going perfectly well.

And yet, for some inconceivable reason, I was unhappy with it.

I didn't like anything about it. I didn't like the stories I was writing, the dialogue that was being spoken, the art style. But I couldn't figure out why or what I could do to fix it. And then, suddenly, I got a job, and spending upwards of 10 hours (yeah yeah, slow drawer) making something I was unhappy with suddenly didn't seem as feasible anymore. So I put it on hiatus while I figured out what I wanted to do with it.

In hindsight, I should have put up some kind of notice saying the strip was on hiatus. This has happened more that once. I guess I always thought to myself, "oh, I'll try to update it next week so there's no need for a BRB sign". But that next week never came. Well, it did, like four times ... over the course of the entire year of 2011. Which is terrible. And I'm sorry, I fucked up. I really suck at communicating with people. One of my friends mentioned to me the other day, "for a web designer, you really suck at actually BEING on the web."

This time will be different. (Just like all the other times, huh?) I saved up money over the last two years and finally got one of those high-falutin Cintiq tablets, so not only is it super-fast to draw strips now but they look much better, too (IMO). I also took a comic book production class instructed by the legendary Steve Rolston, which corrected a million different things in my creative process that I was doing wrong. So that's awesome.

Last of all, I think that my mindset over the last few years has changed considerably as well. I've looked back at some of my older strips hundreds of different times to try to figure out how I can improve, and some of them I literally can't look at anymore without cringing. I mean, sure, I can use the excuse that I drew those strips "during a dark time in my life, it was an emotional outlet, if you can make fun of one thing you can make fun of everything blah blah blah" but there's a comic about slapping Rihanna for fuck's sake, I guess 20-year-old me thought that was funny at some point but 24-year-old-me disagrees. So there's that.

All in all, making this crap is what I've always wanted to do and I finally have the means and know-how to do it right. Hence the "Reboot". I hope you enjoy it.

My Shitty Roommate

This is the true story of my first-ever college dorm roommate during my unsuccessful and short-lived stay at an art school in San Francisco. I documented the account almost immediately after it happened and felt an inexplicable need to update the narration. Warning: Strong language and graphic allegories alluding to poop.

I still remember the day 17-year-old me walked into the dorm room that would be my home for the next six months. I was secretly hoping, as everyone else did, that my first college roommate would be cool. Maybe we'd hit it off from the get-go; maybe it would turn out that we listened to the same music, or were both ecstatic at the thought of skateboarding through the treacherous slopes of downtown San Francisco; or maybe we shared the same ambition of rising through the writhing, hormone-fueled ranks of the freshman student body to become gods among college kids. Where the tales of our deeds -- the countless, glorious victories on the tables of beer pong, or the passionate lamentation of the women who would grace our bunk-bedsides each night, or the way we totally didn't study for the final for that one class we didn't go to the entire year but still ended up passing anyway -- were the stuff of legends.

Maybe -- just maybe -- he would be cool.

He turned out to be this big pimply fat kid with one arm who never showered, brushed his teeth, or went to class. He would just sit at his desk on his side of the room and eat. Needless to say, he left quite a mess and the smell was atrocious. He DID only have one arm though (the other was malformed at birth and non-functional), so I did my best to be accommodating, but since he never left the room except to get more food, I only ever really had to help him with grocery bags. I tried to clean up after him at first but gave up stuck to my own side of the room.

He was openly gay, which I didn't have a problem with. I did find it a bit disconcerting that he would watch porn while I was in the room (he would only use headphones if I asked). But I did start getting creeped out when I would catch him just staring at me. Our desks were at an angle because of the strange shape of the room so that if I looked out of the corner of my eye I could see him. It was obvious because he would turn his entire body to face me, not just his head. Every time I noticed him doing that, I'd turn around and ask, "what's up?" to receive a curt "nothin'". There'd be awkward silence for a few seconds then I'd turn back to my laptop. But out of the corner of my eye I could still see him staring., burning holes into the back of my head.

I felt bad for the kid and finally coaxed him out to have lunch with me at this awesome Asian restaurant I found on Market street. I'm not sure if that was a good idea, because I think he started crushing on me afterwards. I wasn't sure how to deal with that, so I never tried to get him out of the room again. I did scold him for not going to class all the time, but to no avail.

Then one day he comes home and I smell the distinct, nose-wrinkling aroma of human fucking shit. And it wasn't just one of those whiffs you catch when you walk through a shitty (heh) part of town. It was full-blown unprotected un-lubed anal nose rape. His explanation was -- and I quote -- "I was at the record store and I really had to go. They didn't have a bathroom, so I just went in my pants." As I'm trying to recover from speechlessness, he ducks into the bathroom.

While he's in there, I didn't hear the shower or -- sweet zombie jesus -- even the faucet run at ALL. When he comes out, the only evidence I could see of an even attempt to clean himself was the empty toilet paper dispenser and the pile of of crumpled sheets in the trash can. He had essentially just wiped himself off with the entire roll. And he was wearing the same pants.

When I tried to confront him about this, he simply replied, "well, I took off my boxers, but my pants are still pretty okay." He then takes his soiled ass-boxers and puts them inside the laundry hamper.

I don't know about you guys, but if I ever shit myself to the extent this boy did, I would throw away everything I wore that day.

So for whatever reason, he goes out again, and I spend the next hour cleaning the bathroom (the toilet and the seat were pockmarked with shit yogurt and skidmarks) and trying to rid the room of the ungodly stench. Opening the windows seemed to do little to help. If you purchased stock in air fresheners in September 2006, you are a smarter man than I. The room was so thick with Febreze that I probably contaminated my sperm.

And I could still smell it.

So the hour passes and just as I feel like it's almost gone, he comes home and the air replenishes itself with poop aroma. I didn't say anything, out of the fear -- I thought that if I opened my mouth, a stray shit asteroid would orbit into my throat. He sits down at his desk and browses the web for about ten minutes -- and then picks up the phone and calls his mother. I know this because the two phrases that I caught as I absentmindedly listened in on his side of the conversation will forever be burned into my mind:

"Hey, mom? It happened again."

"I'm not throwing them out. They're good shorts."

He had gone back to the same record store where he was gifted a second bout of surprise diarrhea. And this time he hadn't even bothered going to the bathroom first upon arriving home. It was like he had given up, as if he was succumbing to the fate of everlasting incontinence, and that any effort to stem the chunky brown flow would be futile.

The day after the shitstorm (heh), our toilet backed up and flooded murky water about a half-inch deep in our bathroom. I panicked and called to my roommate, asking him for help. He simply looked up and replied,

"I dunno, that's your problem, not mine."

That's pretty much when I snapped I like to think I was fairly patient with him despite how uncomfortable I was living there, but his retort just screamed rudeness and indifference towards me, and my patience wore out. I eventually solved the water crisis in the bathroom -- an RA gave me a vacuum cleaner and told me to vacuum up the water (I didn't do this. It sounded fucking stupid. I ended up finding a mop and bucket in the laundry room).

I then took my roommate's towel and dipped it into the filthy concoction of toilet and mopwater -- did the same with his toothbrush. I also mixed my shit potion into his soap and shampoo bottles.

I was grinning for a full minute at my horrendous vengeance before I suddenly remembered - he has NEVER used his towel, or his toothbrush, or the shower.

I moved to a single the next day.