Reflecting on SQUIRRELOSOPHY: Year One

embracing your inner squirrelOn October 12, 2012, I launched I did not have a master plan, a thesis or a mission statement. The only thing I did have was a bunch of little things that didn’t quite exactly fit into the flow of my daily comic strip Bob the Squirrel.

You can see an awful lot in a reflection… especially a very clear one.

I started posting these extra panels of Bob expressing a view on in April 2012. I genuinely had no aspirations to make anything out of it…other than being a bit of a bonus for the daily readers. Maybe, one of these more timely panels would rope someone into reading the daily. They were going to be “whenever I felt like it” panels… no set schedule. But the ideas kept hitting me, some while I was in the middle of drawing another. If you do what I do, you know that when inspiration sends you down a raging river you need to go with the flow for as far as it’s going to take you.

A raging river can turn into a dry river bed in an instant.

By late September, it was pretty clear that I had to do something about this. There was a feeling that these single panels could take away from the strip. I didn’t want that, but drinking from the inspiration well was addicting. So, I started SQUIRRELOSOPHY. It was as separate thing from the strip…completely separate. That’s fine, but that also meant more work… two sites to maintain, two flows of content to maintain, two of everything. Oh well, I’m no stranger to hard work, right? I did graduate school full time with a full-time job, full-time strip and full-time family, right? Granted, at one point I though my stomach was going to rupture from the stress, but I lived through it, right? A website? Piece of cake.

Uh huh. Yeah.

It has decidedly NOT been a piece of cake. Not a cupcake, a brownie bite or even a cake crumb. It has been hard, stressful and minimally rewarding. It is an extra set of monthly costs and one more piece of time carved off of Frank’s day.
I have not promoted as well as I should have. For that matter, I have NEVER promoted as well as I should have. And yet, eleven years later, the comic strip is still kicking, while many of my contemporaries packed it up long ago. Over the last decade I’ve thought of Bob the Squirrel as the best comic strip that no one has ever read… not only as a bit of sarcastic banter, but to make myself feel better for the lack of “putting it all out there”.

Along the way, I have earned (yes, I say ‘earned’) countless loyal fans…fans that have been with me through this journey. I am constantly in awe knowing that I’ve earned a little bit of their time every day. People that have been supporting me through art purchases, book purchases, making comments, telling me how they can relate and just reading every single day. It is an honor.

It has NEVER been easy. I’ve thought about packing it in myself on a few occasions. Board up the doors and windows and leave it. Move on to something else before this life ends… before it’s too late to have another choice. When I feel this way, and It always seems to be around the milestone moments, I think not about the hard work that will be off my plate, but the people who won’t stop by the site to read everyday. I think about how this comic strip, this sarcastic, crabby, pain in my ass squirrel has been with me for over one-quarter of my life. How, in 2007, when I was in the darkest, most desperate place in my life, he literally SAVED my life. I didn’t tell my problems, to a counselor, to a relative… I talked to Bob. He was (and is) there for me whenever I needed him or not needed him. That’s is how REAL he is.

The worst days of my new life are still a thousand times better than the best days of my old life.

I’m going to give another year. If it doesn’t seem to be working out, I’ll close it down. This doesn’t mean that I will be any less devoted to it than I already am. I will not intentionally derail it to close it down… if I wanted to close it down, I would obviously just close it down. I owe it to my fans and I owe it to Bob.

Here’s to another year.