Note: Some folks interpreted this post as my departure from comics altogether, rather than a Strip Search farewell. First of all, doesn’t that seem a bit drastic? Second, did you not see my magnum opus? I’m back, baby! Anyway…
Well, that’s that. I know for many of you, it wasn’t the end you expected or wanted (some more than others. Sorry, Nadir). But them’s the breaks, and I hope I put up a good fight, though I’m not too sure of that myself.
Leading up to the final challenge, I prepared myself emotionally and mentally for the possibility of defeat. I prepared myself for resentment and sadness. Would I be angry at the winner? Would I not want to see them the next day? I worried about being an ungracious loser.
I also prepared mentally for the final challenge being more than just being critiqued on our work. I prepared to be grilled in private by Mike and Jerry, as if in an actual pitch situation. I prepared myself to answer ugly questions such as why I felt my peers should lose, and I familiarized myself with their perceived weaknesses. I was not proud of this, but of all situations, I felt this was an appropriate time to play the game.
Luckily Katie and Abby floored me with their submissions, and the nature of the actual challenge allowed me to evict those previous thoughts from my head post-haste. Funnily, the idea that there might be one more draw-off did cross my mind, but I was still ill prepared for it.
On that Thunderdome floor I found myself completely devoid of ideas. It may not have looked like it, but my previous two trips to that stage were rough. I barely squeaked by. With my drawing speed, I have to reach for the low hanging fruit, and that fruit is often half-eaten and gnarly. So as the time ticked away, I compensated by borrowing from a previously written arc. Trying to condense that meeting between Riti and Anton into 3 comics proved fatal. It wasn’t true to the work at all. Tossing punchlines aside left and right, I knew I had bombed the challenge, and that my only hope was that the submitted work had left enough of an impression to make up for it.
Prepared for defeat, yet still optimistic that my well-rounded skillset would carry me though, I approached the creators for the last time. Before going back to the stage to hear the final decision, Robert Khoo cautioned us in my preferred tongue: Statistically speaking, we weren’t going to win, and we should be prepared for that. Slightly disheartening, but when the verdict was announced, I took my step back and nothing happened.
“Well, that’s that.”
I wasn’t angry, sad, or even disappointed that night. I was too busy being proud of my friend and ironically consoling those around me as emotions ran high. The next day Katie and I met for coffee before all of us went out to see Iron Man 3. We had fun, and we enjoyed each other’s company one more time before parting ways into Post-Strip-Search life. I couldn’t be unhappy. In many ways I was relieved. A chapter could close out, and life would go on.
On the day after the Final Challenge, I had a wonderful lunch with Robert where we discussed my business plan, the show, relationships, expectations, and results. On the ride back to the hotel he mused, “We’re going to be stuck together for a long time.” I’m clearly getting the better end of the deal there, but the point was that Strip Search was an experiment for everybody involved, down to every last fan and detractor of the show, and nobody expected that lives would become irrevocably intertwined, uprooted, and changed—all for the good. Nobody can argue against Strip Search’s overwhelming success.
But 98% of the fun is in the experiment itself. The result is just icing.
So it’s here that I want to thank everybody who helped make this experiment happen. Mike and Jerry, to whom I have the utmost respect for as artists and writers. To Robert for seeing something in me that I might not have initially seen in myself. To Loading Ready Run and the Penny Arcade family for showing me that work can be more fun than I ever imagined. And the cast. Oh, the cast. We few, we happy few, we band of strippers; For all those who shed their eraser shit all over the floor with me shall forever be my brother. Thank you so much, everyone.
It truly was a wild ride, and while it’s sad that it’s coming to a close, my understanding—informed by science, of course—is that nothing truly ended. It’s just different now.
So there’s a little bit more to this…
What was presented the night of the final challenge was very much a pilot for Sufficiently Remarkable. The pieces are in place, but there are some kinks I have since worked out. Oh yes, rest assured that despite my setback, I will be going ahead with SuRe as planned. I’ve put too much into it not to. There’s a lot of work to do and so much to plan and build, but I think you’ll be pleased with the results. Or at least morbidly curious enough to keep reading. SuRe has a lot of moving parts to it, plenty of surprises, and it rewards those who pay attention.
But is it good? Are there too many moving parts? Is there no direction to the whole thing? Jerry said himself that I could probably produce multiple strips from this one concept. Could I be setting myself up for another failure?
Of course I could. But 98% of the fun is in the experiment.
Keep an eye out for a Kickstarter to help me fund a new website and get this baby off the ground, and as always, keep sending your support. I always love to hear from fans, and you’ve all been amazing through this process. I’d hate to go forward with all this without you.