It’s been ten years.
Ten long and crazy years – and now he’s back.
Why, where did he go, and why is he coming back now?
Really? So many questions when you just got here? Fine!
After three years and creating over 900 comics that were compiled into two self-published books, I reluctantly retired Rick the Stick.
A lot went into that. I was posting for five days a week for three years, writing, sketching, and editing every single day, tons of social media postings, a daily write-up with each comic post, building and maintaining the website, and managing the social accounts. I believed in Rick the Stick, I fell deep into the story and the characters. I wanted to share what drove me, I wanted Rick to be a success so I would have something to point to when my kids got older, and someday we could laugh together over it.
Despite all that work, I felt the drive – the urge to do more. I wanted some kind of notoriety that I was doing the right thing and wasn’t just wasting my time. I had joined a group of like-minded artists that created and developed a free resource website and podcast aimed at helping webcomic artists just starting out. I had tables at four ComicCons – New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Tampa.
The notoriety never came. I had little to no following. I generated no revenue and I had a lot of growing responsibility at home.
Yet, all of that work paid off for me in some ways as my drawing and writing had improved tremendously. But I knew my most important role was as a father to two amazing (and tiny) children. I had a full-time job, and, well, getting three to four hours of sleep per night turned out to be more than I could manage. I was worn out.
Regretfully, I had to put Rick on the shelf.
Aspirations of becoming a cartoonist and/or illustrator of some kind still called to me, and I still needed a creative outlet. Thus began my adventure into children’s books, The Good Pirate, The Lizard Cowboy, and Billy the Silly Goat.
I found that creating these books was much less time-consuming and I could use what I had taught myself while doing the webcomic. Fortunately, those books had a target market of two (my kids), and it was a smash! Finally, some notoriety around the house!
Meanwhile, Rick waited patiently (which is soooo unlike him).
To my delight, after self-publishing the comics and having them sit on a shelf for a few years, my boys began to carry the books around as soon as they were able to read – and I have the pictures to prove it! It was humbling to see them voluntarily pick the books up and occasionally brought me to tears when they would ask questions about the comic out of the blue.
Honestly, THAT is exactly what I did it for. It’s exactly what I worked really hard for and had sacrificed so much. While my webcomic didn’t generate a huge following online, it had captured the audience it was intended for – and in my mind, I had real notoriety, I felt like I had hit the lottery.
A few years ago I took another adventure with a ‘Harry Potter-style” novel about King Arthur which fueled an itch to tell more of Rick’s story than the comics had the ability to.
Today, my family is much larger (after I hit the lottery again) – and so I decided to try a ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ approach and merge storytelling and comics into a graphic journal.
The truth is Rick never went anywhere.
Originally, Rick was in college (like I was when I originally created him). Today, he’s a middle schooler dealing with more than just schoolwork. The story is now told from his cousin Milton’s perspective and will allow me to fill in a lot of the blanks I don’t think the comic could.
My kids are middle school-aged (or will be) and I wrote this for all four of them. I shared a completed draft and they liked it, they ask questions out of the blue and offer ideas for the next one. So again, it’s a success!
Each Rick the Stick graphic journal will attempt to satisfy that audience with humor and a message about being a good person. Rick isn’t 100% there, but with the guidance of the Manners – hopefully, he’ll turn out okay.
If you or someone you know likes the book, that would be incredible too.