Life, Love, Bob and SQUIRRELOSOPHY!
You all know how this thing started. If you don’t, read this…
12 years is a long time, not just in internet time, but it TIME time. Who were YOU 12 years ago? Think about that for a moment. Did you eat the same food? Did you have the same job? Did you live in the same place? Were you with the same person? I imagine you’d answer no to at least one or two of those questions.
Life is linear. Outside forces diverge into your line; making it thicker, thinner or changing the direction entirely. That being said, I resolved myself to the notion that Bob the Squirrel will probably never be a HUGE thing. Every now and then I lament that Bob (the business) barely breaks even. I wonder what I can do to alter that line… or what I have done wrong to keep it where it is. It frustrates me that it can’t pay the mortgage or the utility bill every month for me. Cartoonists are used to the long hours without the promise of financial reward… that’s just how we roll. Whatever I’m missing, I know it’s right in front of my face… that one thing that will break it all out and put wise ass squirrels everywhere.
Then what? Ride the wave of success until it hits the shore… then paddle out again and hope that another wave is coming? If the seas are calm, you’re left out there with the sharks circling. Trapped. But at least you got to ride that first wave.
Yes, I lament… but not for too long. Do you know why? Because there are strips that need to be drawn.
I wrote this last year, on Bob’s 11th Birthday:
I’ve sacrificed untold amounts of everything in order to keep this strip going. Financially, in time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, earth wind and fire. In 2011, I wanted to maybe see what my life would be like without Bob…when hundreds would kill for the privilege of what I have.
Could I have done things differently? No doubt. Could I be making much more money with this thing? Probably. I could change this strip to make it more popular…ride the wave of the moment and benefit in the short term…It would be easy. Too easy. I won’t do that. If that means I lose out, so be it. In a world that more often than not turns its back on that which is genuine, I will not change. The strip is as perfect as it’s going to be… and I should know, I’ve invested nearly a quarter of my life into it…and I’ll probably invest even more.
365 days later, that still rings true. Let’s face it, I’m stubborn. I won’t change my friend if it means that I sell my soul. If that wave never comes, it never comes… I have created a life. Not only that, but I’ve documented 12 years of my existence and the existence of the one’s I love. My life. It’s a photo album (remember those?) of the important and mundane moments of me. It’s my autobiography. How cool is that?
Recently, I’ve been feeling pretty bad about myself. I see friends around me doing well financially… while I pretty much stay where I’ve always been. I started to think that my worth was directly tied to what was in the bank. I KNOW thinking this is completely illogical… and untrue. Still, I was in a bad way. I questioned if I wasted time on something seemingly futile…something that would never happen. Should I have done something else with my life? What will the next decades bring or not bring? What about graduate school? Was it worth spitting up stressed out, ulcerous blood for two years to get a Master’s degree I haven’t been able to use? (I look back on the work I did in graduate school, maintaining the daily strip along with a full-time day job and I wonder how I didn’t end up in the hospital…it’s insane.)
Even people who do what they love have moments like this. These are private moments… moments that are part and parcel in those who create for a living. We all have doubts about something. We all wonder what would the present be like if the past were tweaked a little– if certain key decisions were decided differently. Invariably, those that truly love what they do come up empty when wondering what else they could’ve done. This includes me.
I’d love to be one of those artists that pays off his mother’s house. I’d love to be one of those artists that buys his fiance a 5 carat diamond ring every week. I’d love to be one of those artists that is able to give his daughter a worry-free college education. The only thing that these people want from me is to be me.
So, Bob the Squirrel is 12 today. Both he and I have grown up together. Sometimes I think he’s the more mature of the two of us. He’s not going anywhere…and neither am I. The work continues because of the work… not because of the reward.
Happy Birthday again dude.