Oh what a coincidence, that my newspost day should fall upon the date of my 15th year on this very site! So naturally, on this anniversary, I'd like to open up and reflect on how the Duck has left a major impact on my life and work.
Every year when my anniversary rolls around, I make a commemorative poster. Usually I'm scrambling at the last minute to do it, though some years I've had the foresight to start a month early if it's gonna be something big like a full-cast. Maybe something you didn't know about people with ADHD: to us, time is a nebulous concept; we get sucked into the hyperfocus void where time has no meaning, and we're serial procrastinators whose best work is done in a state of panic. I spent last night caffeinated to the gills, ice pack on my head with a throbbing migraine, fighting with my computer to do a simple task like “saving” all my “hard work” because it's 2 am and I'd like sleep now and I have neighbors who don't need to hear me cursing this tech for betraying me. (Why is the file explorer crashing again!!!)
When I started posting my comic online, I was already a good 600 or so pages into a (never posted online) first draft I made to share with personal friends. I had to teach myself photoshop from scratch. In my learning mistakes I ruined so many of my own pages trying to fix mistakes. I was using Windows ‘98, Photoshop 7, a rollerball mouse, and saving things to floppy disks because there wasn’t enough room to save things to the hard drive. I overwrote the same files each time I made a new page. I made a new page every day, sometimes more than one– my first week on DD, I produced and posted 8-5 pages a day. I didn't want someone to look at my comic and judge it by a lonely single page, I wanted them to take in a few and get a better idea of what I was going for. Personally, I rarely add a comic to my reading list after reading 1 page unless the author has previous work I enjoyed and I doubt many others do either. So I'd make a page, post it, then immediately started drawing over it for a new page. I know now my art was not “good” but at the time, I thought it was “good enough”– I thought I was doing my best, and I strive to do better. I was dedicated to posting a page every day, and I kept an unbroken streak into 2005 when the Big Crash came, and I kept a schedule of every other day until 2006 when the site returned, before I fell into a deep depression and updates became more unpredictable. I didn't actually start doing anniversary posters until my 6th year online, and have since then tried to do one for every year. When DD was completely obliterated, I had no way to confirm when my first post date was until I discovered The Internet Archives “Wayback Machine”. It's not perfect, and their cache failed at preserving a lot of things like the comic pages, but I was able to confirm when my first ever page went live: Jan. 6, 2004.
Even when I know it's coming I still somehow manage to be finishing it only the night before. I used to do holiday posters too, especially for Halloween. I didn't end up doing one this year. Too little time for it! I'm working on so much, but have so little to show for it. I can't believe I made a page a day on my slow dinosaur computer at my parents house, but it takes me a week to get a single page done these days with vastly superior technology. I'll let you in on an unfortunate reality for the vast majority of artists, the better you get at art, the more critical you will be of your own work and the more effort it will require for you to call something done. Several prominent comic artists for Marvel and DC effectively retired themselves because they couldn't just push out less than their best, and their best couldn't be done at the breakneck pace of a major publisher. You will learn to catch your own mistakes before someone else does. You will become unhappier with your art the more skilled you get at it, and your critics will be meaner, too. You might take their harsh advice, but they won't bother to stick around to see you do it. Remember it's the people who like what you do now that you need to please, do your best job for them.
I look at my old archives and the bad art there and maybe I should feel embarrassed but I don't feel all that bad, to be honest. I will point out that it is amateurish, but I don't feel the need to scrub it from the internet the way a lot of my colleagues do. I think it's important to preserve these things. I even keep my crappy old drawings in a folder, looking back on these things is as comforting as it is upsetting! It's really like viewing things drawn by a stranger sometimes, as my style mutates into something different from where it started I can't draw that way anymore. I can't force myself to draw things in the way I used to find natural. Some pictures I even look at and recall feeling something like pride, looking at it now I say “Was this REALLY my best?” Oddly, some of my work I wasn't thrilled about at the time, I look upon and go “Ah, this wasn't so bad, really!” A lot of artists have told me that seeing where my art started off gives them hope. It warms my heart to hear this every time. The experience has only driven me to want to become an even better artist. I have also received many beautiful messages from people who told me that my work helped them through tough times. I used my comic to help cope through my toughest times as well. A part of yourself can't help but soak into your work when you are deeply invested in creating it. During my deepest depression, it is not just my author's notes that changed but it took a toll on my art as well. I can see the deep unhappiness in the strange artistic choices I made at the time. Updates had gone from a page every other day to month-long gaps. I couldn't sleep, I didn't eat, but I did work on my comic, albeit slowly. I'm grateful that I did. I nearly gave up on life, but I told myself that I owed it to my audience to keep going with my story, and I needed to be around for that to happen.
Coincidentally, and we had not really planned this, but my comic anniversary is the day after my wedding anniversary with my husband Nick, whom I also have DD to thank for 11 years of happiness. If we had not met on this site and became fans of each other's work, collaborated on comics, and became friends, I would not be here today. His friendship and his creativity, his willingness to listen and offer feedback has made me a better writer. If I hadn't kept updating my comic even through the worst of it, I would not have the best creative partner and love of my life today. It's all because I shared a part of my life with my readers, in my author's notes and in my pages.
DD is still like home. Even though it's not all been great, the best things in my life have been a result of coming to this site and staying here. I look out and see some of the artists that left years and years ago and went on to become mega-popular. It's strange to know that the guy responsible for the “This Is Fine” dog was once our neighbor on this website. I have 201 comics in my faves list, and about 25% of it are actively updating. So many webcomics come on here to dump their mirror archive, link to their main site and patreon, then never come back. I'll be honest, I don't care for that much. DD is a community that you need to put a little into to get a little back. I've been a mainstay and a loyal Duck for 15 years, and if it takes 15 more to finish my story, it's still going to be here. I still hold onto hope to see this site thriving again, the way it was back when I joined, an invigorated community full of helpful folks who want to support and uplift their neighbors.
Thank you Drunk Duck, to my colleagues, to the friends I've made here, and even the bitter whiners who unintentionally motivate me out of sheer spite. Thank you all!
Amelius at 12:13PM, Jan. 6, 2019
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+