on july 13th 2023, “a ghost story”, my webcomic, turned 10 years old. for people who clicked this out of curiosity and are currently thinking “she has a webcomic??” here are some quick boring numbers about the quantity of comic: there are 849 canonical pages of “a ghost story”. 900 even if you count the (unfinished, but nearly done) chapter 1 redraw. there are 9 finished “chapters” spread across 3 “books”. you can read it all for free. go do that! then you can read my overly dramatic retrospective or whatever.
i accidentally missed previous years anniversary updates, so this one legitimately snuck upon me and then clubbed me over the head repeatedly every time i tried to think about it. since the comic’s conception, i graduated college, moved to oregon, moved to rhode island, bought a house with adam, and got engaged. i cannot even BEGIN to convey the direct positive impact creating this comic brought into my life. and if you had told me 10 years ago that this seemingly impossible future of love and safety was made real because there is an audience for my cartoons, you would have to send me to the emergency room to get re-hydrated from the amount of tears that would start spewing out of me.
first off, “a ghost story” could not exist without its audience. i have tried and failed in the past to communicate the sheer enormity of my gratitude to everyone who has ever paid me the time of day when it comes to jack and maxine’s misadventures. all my attempts to impart the amount of sincere gratitude i have toward the people who go out of their way to read my little web 1.0 ass webcomic for a decade fall short. my message to everyone who has ever read “a ghost story” now or in the past or in the future, to everyone who has ever recommended it to someone else, to everyone who donated so that i could make drawing a comic my primary income, to everyone who has ever sent me words of kindness, critique, jokes, or questions, and most of all to everyone who has ever laughed at my comic…thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you!!! sincere interest in what i create has been the true force driving the comic forward for so long. that and the mental illness and such. my experience with comics has been a rollicking good time and i cannot stress enough how unusual this experience is within the field. I LOVE CREATING A GHOST STORY! IT IS MY PLEASURE!!
i have struggled to articulate in the past the joy that came with my personal experience with the Average Cartoonist Lifestyle. i end up sounding like a weird shithead, or being misunderstood as advocating for all artists to commit to living like lenny on the simpsons or, worst of all, feeling like i’m guilting people into donating in order to better my circumstances. i have made less than minimum wage the entire time i’ve made “a ghost story”. i lived on food stamps. i have had medicaid since i turned 24. i used to wear my gloves indoors in the winter because i couldn’t afford to run the heat constantly. i do not care. i was able to live according to my own developing moral principals, i was able to get the (um. extensive and still ongoing) mental health treatment i desperately needed, and i was given the irreplaceable gift to create without restraint.
part of why i can’t articulate your impact is because there are simply parts of myself and my history i do not want to share with anyone outside of a clinical setting. please read between the lines when i say: the creation of the comic heralded the happiest and safest period of my entire life, especially on a day to day basis. choosing to be a cartoonist as a career was the most defiant choice i had ever made in my life; frankly, it was explicitly for my own happiness and pleasure. but that choice would not have been an option at all were it not for you. it is a choice that changed my life.
being too candid about your life invites uncharitable scrutiny and/or else i risk becoming reduced to a barrage of descriptors about my life i have no control over; im hispanic/white, bisexual, mentally ill (and how!), and now am in the middle of grappling with the idea of having a chronic syndrome. all of these things and more have had considerable impact and influence on “a ghost story”, but anyone looking to relate to my work on those themes is likely to leave disappointed and confused. except for the mental illness one. i think that comes through. anyway: my point is that i always hoped that “a ghost story” stood on its own merits. i don’t know if it does. i would like to believe it does. or, really, that’s what i really want. i want to create something recognized by an audience as having value for their own relationship they’ve developed to it and not my own.
in my opinion, “a ghost story” is “salami” art (as stephen king once said: “I’m a salami writer. I try to write good salami, but salami is salami”) . i too try to write and draw good salami. i want every page (even and especially the ones that are difficult or are boring or i simply don’t want to do for some reason or another) to underscore my appreciation for the “a ghost story” audience. for choosing to spend your free time on my comic, anything less than my best efforts and the best work i can provide would be disrespectful.
i had, and still have, a sort of single-minded mania about this comic and this story but i am in a state of nightmarish limbo at the moment. my body is currently not capable of keeping up with my brain, which is churning constantly and filled to capacity with ideas and things i need to get out of it. things have been rough. this winter was so horrible it finally drove me into a doctors office because my hands hurt too much to hold a pen for longer than a few minutes. it was ridiculous. this tendon disorder is creating more specific problems than just swollen joints and pain. i get trigger finger in my pinky (alarming!), carpal tunnel in my wrist (annoying!), and the stiffest fingers you can imagine. im currently going through another flare so i will go back to the doctor again just to do something for my hands so i can keep doing comics. i don’t even care about the rest of my stupid joints. if i don’t draw i will literally go insane. my fingers feel fat and clogged (really silly i know) and i get antsy if i dont at least have a sketchbook available to me. i’ve been on vacations where ive had to stop at stores and get something to draw on. one, nothing wrong with me,
i’d be lying if i said i hadn’t been putting this off for reasons other than hand pain. ever since i could remember, reflecting on my own work makes my stomach drop into a pit. i struggle with talking about the comic itself to people without feeling embarrassed. when talking about it to another human face to face, it feels like i can suddenly hear how stupid i sound. i’m also in a period of feeling unmoored and undeserving of my station in life. i’m experiencing a level of comfort that has been previously unknown to me and 10 years of success feels like it happened to me by accident. most days i feel like i’m about to step on a rug concealing a huge pit that i’m never going to be able to get out of. you know the feeling that everything good in your life can just vanish instantly. that feeling. that’s also been chasing me a lot more relentlessly lately.
well, at least we’re getting some good laughs out of it. more years please. i enjoyed this round of years.
see you next year, if i don’t forget. don’t let me forget.
p.s. here are some things to look forward to in the comic: a fired gun, a personal injury, an arrest for homicide, a date for alice,