Notes from the Road

pack it up pack it in

I’ve been traveling this week! I was in Portland, then I was in Western Massachusetts inside the sinister obelisk that is TopatoCo World Headquarters, and now I’m in Boston. I am a California boy, and I am freezing here.

I have this feeling like I’ll look back at this point in my life and think, “Wow, I sure used to travel a lot.” I read about authors and musicians and athletes and other people who tour a lot, who have to stay in a lot of crappy hotels and ride on buses and fly coach and how they eventually get fed up with the hardship and the physical toll it takes on the body and just decide to start staying home. I hope that doesn’t happen to me; I hope our travel infrastructure makes improvements in comfort at at least the same rate that I get more decrepit and intolerant of the inconvenience.

And I cannot wait for the day when people in white coats come into my room at night, drug me and put me into a tube, and I wake up completely refreshed in New York a day later. If they will do that for me, I will even let them take embarrassing pictures of me while I am knocked out. I do not even care. I want it that bad.

I hope I get to keep traveling, because I love going to shows and events and meeting people and selling books and laughing and having a great time. I even love days like today, sitting in a café or hotel room with my laptop, connected to the world and putting in a satisfying full day’s work that I got to design.

I’m really excited about what’s happening at TopatoCo, and I’ve never been more sure that I made a smart move retiring from my “real” job at the beginning of this year. I’ve been self-employed for several years, taking odd freelance jobs here and there (usually editing movie trailers), but back in the spring I said “I don’t got time for this noise no more” and since then I’ve never looked back.

I get to develop comics and books and posters and cool stuff for myself, and I’ve also been working very closely with TopatoCo handling promotions and helping design books and other products for other artists. Today we launched a store for one of my favorite podcasters and a remarkable internet person in his own right, Jesse Thorn.

I’ve always been adamant that there’s no real difference between “webcomics” and “cool things on the internet in general”, and maybe the fact that I’m kind of an outlier in the “comics” world per se has helped me develop that perspective in a different way than some of my friends and colleagues who’ve got cartooning deep in their blood.

I forsee a future where a business model that we’ve sort of hammered out for webcomics can help bloggers, musicians, podcasters, writers, comedians etc. all develop sustainable careers by doing ridiculous things with computers.


6 thoughts on “Notes from the Road”

  1. Welcome to Boston! You have excellent timing, the weather was quite nice a week ago but it appears the fall->winter transition has begun. (summer->fall happened in about a week, no wishy washy weather this season apparently)

  2. I forsee a future where a business model that we’ve sort of hammered out for webcomics can help bloggers, musicians, podcasters, writers, comedians etc. all develop sustainable careers by doing ridiculous things with computers.

    This is exactly what I want. I am enamored, awestruck even, with the webcomics community and want to be part of that movement, but have no artistic ability myself. Therefore I decided to adopt the mantra of, “Make stuff and give it away for free, then sell some stuff and, if people like it, they’ll buy it.”

    Doesn’t work too well when most of my time is either at my day job or school, but someday…

    Authors are waking up across this great world and realizing that publishing companies just aren’t the way to go anymore. I’m seeing more get into self-publishing, and a few* starting to release for free (with donation or purchase options). It’s an exciting time 🙂

    * Cory Doctorow, of course, has done this for a decade, but the rest of us are just starting to catch on.

  3. I loves me some Charles Babbage. Blaise Pascal , the wunderkind, designed a mechanical computing device when he was a kid — back in the 1600’s or so. THIS IS A TRUE FACT

  4. David,

    Very well put. My band is currently redesigning our business model and the webcomic format has been nothing short of an inspiration. Keep up the excellent work my friend!


  5. I have the nomadic work lifestyle. The best thing I have found is staying in hotels where the rooms have kitchens. Most major chains have them now, extended stay, hometown, studio 6. Being on the road is not so bad when you can cook your own food.

  6. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The fact that people are actually supporting themselves and their families with their online endeavors points to a promising future. There seem to be as many business models as there are webcomics, which suggests a wealth of opportunities for the motivated entrepreneur. Someday maybe we webcomic creators will be recognized as trailblazers of e-commerce.

    All this and we sometimes get to make people laugh too!

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