Right now, I have some matters of a personal nature that I feel need to be dealt with, and to do so, I'll need some time away from the strip. To not deal with these matters will, I suspect, only make things worse, and may eventually affect the quality of Bruno the Bandit, such as it is.
One of the issues I hope to tackle is what exactly the future of Bruno the Bandit is. Yes, I absolutely want Bruno to continue, but at the moment, the question is, in what form? I have over 1000 strips drawn, and I am still not earning a living at this, as I had sort of hoped to be doing by now. I have to wonder whether I should keep working on it as a daily strip, or should I cut it back to a hobby, while I look for real work?
On the plus side, I have to say that I'm certainly making more money than I was by the time I had finished drawing my 100th strip. As well, your PayPal donations are a very encouraging sign! The generosity of those of you who have contributed has been surprising, and quite gratifying! Saying "thank you" almost seems inadequate, but, um, thank you! :-)
In the meantime, while on a reduced schedule, I'm probably going to call a halt to the "Donate to Bruno and (maybe) win a prize!" drives I've been holding on my website every second Wednesday. For now, anyone thinking of contributing may want to hold off for a little while, at least until I figure out what to do with the strip. (AAAUUUGGGHH, I can't believe I'm turning down MONEY!!!) But hey, if you insist on donating, I won't talk you out of it! ;-)
In truth, these days I find Bruno the Bandit more of a challenge to write and draw. This, I believe, is a good thing.
Starting out, the strips were easier to write and draw, because I had a clean slate to work on. The ideas were all brand new, and there were so many possibilities to explore. Some of my earliest stories relied heavily on the fact that Bruno's world is full of futuristic anachronisms. The joke was "Oh look at that, he's using a cell phone!", and perhaps that was good enough to get things started. Nowadays, I gotta go deeper. The fact that Bruno is talking on a cell phone isn't what's funny, it's hopefully what he's saying that'll get the laughs.
In some ways, creating Bruno is like a game to me, an RPG, like Dungeons & Dragons. With the earliest strips, I was at the first level of cartooning. As a result, the challenges weren't quite as tough, or at least, not quite as tough as I face today. But as each story gets completed, the challenge to come up with something else new and original, to show you another aspect of Bruno and his world that you haven't seen or anticipated becomes just a tad more difficult. Heck, I'm not sure I always succeed, but what the hell, I'm having fun trying.
For some, a challenge like this may be off-putting, and this is where I address my fellow cartoonists out there. If you are just starting out, you will eventually find it tougher to come up with new material. But when we play a good computer game or RPG, we expect the challenges to be tougher as we get deeper in to the game. Think of what you're working on as a game, and you'll do fine. You may not always win, but if you're having fun, that's what counts the most. It's a cliche, but it's true.
For me, the question is, can I continue to take up the challenge full-time, or do I need to cut back, and take on the challenges of real work? I hope to have this question answered to my satisfaction fairly soon.
On a final note, I'd like to congratulate my friend and fellow Keenspotter Dave Kellett, the creator of Sheldon, which is one of my all time favorite comic strips. Dave has recently been offered a conditional "try-out" contract with the United Media syndicate. Dave has expressed a little concern at succeeding at this new phase in his cartooning career, but I know that if he continues doing the type of strip that he does, he will do just fine. I personally can't wait for the day when "Arthur the Wonder Duck" is a household phrase. Make us proud, Dave!