1000: And They All Lived...

goodolwt on June 6, 2010

So I guess that’s it.

About five years ago I started working on what eventually became Keyguard Active. When I started, the monstrosities I was churning out were barely readable. It’s a rare day that I can build up the courage to read that first year of strips, because I’m sort of ashamed of the quality. They were, and I say this with honest reflection, both really terrible and the absolute best I could do. Today, I have a body of work that I feel I can truly be proud of. I’ve told some stories and drawn some pictures that I think people have really enjoyed. I made some people laugh, and sometimes I made myself laugh. On any given day, that’s the best anyone in the creative field can hope for, so for that, I say Mission Accomplished.

There are so many people to thank here, I’m terrified I’ll leave someone crucial and important out. First and foremost, I want to thank my Dad, who I lost this past December. My entire life he had been my idol, my mentor, and my friend. Beyond that, he was a major driving force behind the comic. Early in the strip’s run, I had been invited to sign autographs and sell books at an event called Minicomicpalooza. The night before, being the procrastinator that I am, I’d not put anything together. I was all set to give up and just not show up to the event. That wasn’t good enough for dad. He sat me down and explained that there was no reason I shouldn’t do this. I’d been invited, so someone had seen SOMETHING in me, so I was obligated to do something. I stayed up all night crating those books, and he drove me to Kinkos at three in the morning to make copies. Then we stayed up until Four folding and stapling the Mini-comics together. That was the first, but wouldn’t be the last time he’d talk me down off of that particular ledge. More than anything, my dad always made me feel like I was special, and what I did mattered. I miss him dearly, and Keyguard wouldn’t be here without him.

I don’t trust many people with my characters. For the entire run of the strip, the grand total is myself and two other people. The first and perhaps more prominent of them is Chris Harrod, the man on whom Mike is based. I’ve known Chris, who I call Taff, for a great many years now but have never met him face to face. It’s an odd function of the fact that we live in the future that people can now have friends across the globe from them. He’s a man who I’ve shared a great deal with, personally and professionally. Chris co-wrote many of the strips in the archive, and you can pick them out by the modified logo on those comics. He’s funny, talented and honest to God brilliant. We don’t talk like we used to, but I still consider him one of my best friends. And here’s the dirty little secret that I’ve never told him: Mike is my favorite character. The strip just didn’t work before he was introduced. Mike has driven the narrative of the comic for the majority of it’s life, and much of that I have to thank Chris for.

The only other person I let work on Keyguard for any length was Murl, who I call Cap’m and on whom Skip is based. He’s my best friend, and he’s been there for me in good times and bad. I know that no matter what happens, Cap’m has my back. Unilaterally, unequivocally, he’s been my rock. Words can’t express what he’s meant to me and therefore to the strip.

There are literally hundreds of others to thank, so I’ll just rattle off some important ones here. Thank you to all the people who willingly or unwillingly lent themselves to Keyguard in the form of characters based on them: Sarah, Amanda, John, Danielle, Patrick, Kelly, Crystal, Tish, Elise, Shane (twice!), the real Alexis who always entertained me with her get rich quick schemes. Thank you Al, Jamie, the real Stixx, Robby, Misty, Brian, and all the incidental players I’ve forgotten. Thank you Danny for taking everyone assuming you were Meat in stride. Thank you to Ree for sending me my first piece of Fan Art. I continue to treasure it to no end. Thank you Andrew, for a fantastic theme song that I’ll keep on my MP3 Player forever. Thank you Joel, Tara and everyone else involved with Astrokitty and Minicomicpalooza for welcoming a kid who knew literally nothing into your comic making family. Thank you to my grandparents, my mom, and my whole extended family for their support.

Thank you, readers, for letting me do this. For being there whatever portion of the way you traveled with my cast. For supporting me.

So, where do we go from here?

You may have noticed that I didn’t exactly wrap up anyone’s story here. That was by design. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be done telling stories. Honestly though, I think I’m just ready to tell a different kind of story. While Keyguard Active ends here, this isn’t the end of the Activerse. Glass Chess Set is a concept for a comic that takes place just to the left of the one presented in KA. My intention is to bring that to you in some form in the not so distant future. Along with that, I’m working on what could be described as a Science Fiction Situational Romantic Comedy, or Sci-Fi-Sit-Rom-Com. It is also set in Lawrence, Kansas, and it’s possible that at least a few familiar faces will show up over there. Sadly, you have not heard the last from me.

Now, before we say goodbye, there’s something I wanted to share with you all something that inspired me. I was listening to an interview with the head writer of some show or the other, and he was talking about a meeting he had with his staff. He sat them all down and said, alright, we have twelve hours of television to make, what are we trying to say? That’s a statement that struck me. I looked at what I had, and realized I had about two hundred comics left to write. What was I trying to say? In the end, I decided that the moral of Keyguard Active was a simple one, and it’s also a quote from playwright George Bernard Shaw: Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.

My sincere hope is that every one of you is able to go out and make yourself what you want to be.

Until We Meet Again…