Friday, 2 December 2005
|1059 - Happy 2000, Schlock!|
Today marks the 2000th daily cartoon for Schlock Mercenary.
Stop and think about that for a moment. 2000 episodes of a daily webcomic. In a row. Without missing a single day. For that matter, without being in serious, scribble-something-at-the-last-minute danger of missing a day. No, Howard Tayler, the cartoonist, doesn't sit down and draw one strip a day; he works with a buffer that fluctuates from 2 to 20-something days ahead, but the buffer is never empty. In an industry that's known for being so unreliable that there's a competition for who can run the longest on schedule without missing a day - from which more than a few authors have already dropped out - this is almost unheard of. One day, when webcomics are as big as newspaper comics are now, it'll be because people like Howard blazed the trail.
It's also significant that, while the quality of the art has steadily improved from that first strip in June 2000 until now, the storytelling and humor have been consistently good from the start. That's five and a half years of stories, and five and a half years of jokes. I could never manage that; I can't come up with book-length stories to save my neck, and consistently funny is well beyond me. (What funny I was able to come up with on Jimmy Kimmel Live was more a result of me just being myself, rather than intentionally trying to be funny, and the directors' abilities to turn that into funny TV.)
I discovered Schlock at Penguicon 2.0. In my usual brash manner, I walked up to Howard, sitting at a table in the lobby with his laptop on Friday morning, and said "Hi! Who are you?" We got to talking, and over the course of that weekend, Howard impressed the hell out of me. I plowed my way through the whole series inside of a few days, and was hooked - enough that my second costume came straight from the strip. It's become so much a part of my life now that at least part of my day is set by its schedule: I don't go to bed until after the update posts nightly at 10 PM (US Central).
Howard's a great guy, and I'm proud to be able to call him a friend. I'm sure he, and Schlock Mercenary, will be around for a long time to come.
current mood: enthralled
current music: Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly
I've been reading the latest bits, partly on your advice and partly on Websnark's -- for something with so much backstory it's surprisingly easy to just come into the middle on. (I do need to go back and read it all, though!)
Before you read the whole thing, you should start with the 2003 relaunch of the strip
. By then, Howard had the art mostly down. The story from there forward is pretty much self-contained. Once you've gotten thoroughly hooked, then you can go back and read the first thousand strips, secure in the knowledge that the funny is still there and the art won't be too painful for too long.