I don't have many regrets. Not because I haven't done anything dumb - far from that. But regrets by definition involve looking backward, and my attention span is so bad that it's all I can do to scan the future.
The Grand Rapids Press is starting to run Frazz today. The Press is probably the paper I most identify as "my" paper. My parents subscribed to it while I was growing up, and it was a really good paper. It's the paper that made me want to draw for newspapers. And while it's not the first paper I did draw pictures for - that would be the Big Rapids Pioneer, one of the other papers I consider "mine" - it's the first one I drew for to make an actual facsimile of a living. I left college - nursing school - to work for them as a full-time freelancer, a move that could easily have turned out to be a regret but turned out quite well.
Things didn't go well with the editor there.
Now, just so you know, that's as harshly as I'm going to badmouth the editor. Sorry. That sort of thing is entertaining, but about as long-term healthy and satisfying as half an orange marshmallow circus peanut. This is about my regrets. If he has any, he can write them in his own blog.Actually, it was worse than that. Things did go well, and then they didn't, which I'm sure gave it the taste of betrayal. It also gave me the knowledge that he did, indeed, have a sense of humor, the confidence to try to patch things up with humor, and the hubris to try to match his style of humor. That third one, I think, was the one that did it. He seemed to prefer a certain kind of elbow-in-the-ribs type of teasing, but apparently it was more fun in outgoing form. Or maybe I was just that ham-fisted. I nudged -- elbowed -- him and his paper in an episode of the strip, which, to my knowledge, remains the one and only cameo that didn't make everybody involved happy, and boom. Not only did I anger someone I was trying to patch things up with, but I did so with someone powerful enough to ban my strip from "my" paper. Regret.
The sick thing is, it worked well for me. When you're starting a comic strip, you don't quit your day job for a while. The money comes in slowly, and most strips fail. So I worked a lot of long, long weeks in a row with no break. I did a lot of drawing tired. Really tired. Tired enough to affect intrapersonal-relationships judgment, we've learned. Tired enough to feel really wronged by the outcome - and mad enough to make sure I did everything right from there on in, because the only way I was going to make sure he didn't have the satisfaction of thinking he contributed to my downfall was not to fall down. That anger fueled me through a lot of late work nights.
I'm still here. He's not there. The new editor is superb. I've known him almost as long as that first editor and known of him even longer, and I have thought the world of him the whole time. I still do, and he's brought Frazz into yet another one of his papers. This is the opposite of regret, but not the opposite of motivation. If there's one thing you want to do more than make your enemies look dumb, it's make sure your allies look brilliant.
So, yeah. I sure hope the first Frazz that happens to run in his paper isn't a juvenile bathroom joke or anything …