In the olden days, a “three-ring circus” wasn’t a metaphor for political chaos; it was real. You could literally smell it. When folks wanted entertainment, they went to the circus.
Each ring simultaneously hosted performances by somersaulting clowns, roaring wild quadrupeds, and their fearless trainers. Despite the sometimes subpar treatment of our animal friends, this was the only place where generations of children saw them at all.
Traditionally, high above the crowd, was a “balancing act”.
In the heyday of the tightrope walker, people came from miles around to see it. You wanna know just how popular the flying trapeze used to be? Pop quiz; who was Robin before he met Batman?
He was Dick Grayson, of Gotham’s legendary Flying Graysons, THAT’S WHO! His family was even killed in a high wire stunt. This has been known as Robin’s origin since 1940. The killers tampered with the tightrope/trapeze, making it appear as though the Graysons fell to their deaths by freak accident.
Because the family worked without a net.
Without a net, the threat of death informs the trapeze artist’s every move. The crowd watches with rapt attention. They can scarcely blink. Their breath quickens and their hearts pound because any second, they might see a human being go thud.
With a net, it’s just fancy dancing and bouncing. Clowns that appear to be having fun do it. The crowd checks their phones, or looks over to the next ring to see if the tiger is peeing.
The point of this bloated allegory: to make people care, you have to work without a net.
Here is the situation as I currently understand it:
- At the end of last century, I grew accustomed to paying for website hosting on the Internet.
- Because of this expense, I came to believe that unless I create content on a frequent basis, I am wasting money.
- To familiarize myself with trends and competition, I engaged in near-constant Internet usage for the past twenty years.
- Unless I am constantly creating content AND being affirmed constantly (plus paid) for said content, I feel worthless and rapidly spiral into depression.
- I am acutely aware that there exists no precedent for what I am doing, yet I still feel like I should be able to do it, solo.
- I am acutely aware of the increasing alienation my friends have experienced from me and my every waking moment is sheer Lovecraftian horror.
- I acutely realize, at excruciating intensity, how much I am asking of people while I try to maintain a career as an entertainment presence in their lives for over two decades.
You know that comic strip you hate? I strive to make better comic strips. That website you think is lame? If I’m not updating more frequently than that one does, I’m upset about it. I’m a one-man media barrage, but not icky (like that Milo dude), or compromised (like that annoying vlogger you also hate). If I see someone else’s comic strip being shared on social media, I try to examine the reasons why, so I can top it.
Remember what the Joker said? If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
I have been in constant sales-mode for twenty years and I don’t know for sure that it’s not compulsive mental illness. I believe myself to be a reliable go-to entertainment presence for people and thus that is what I am. The details are unimportant; what matters is that I am consistently available and out there. I don’t know how to do or be anything else. This is my specific artist role in our society. We live in a society. The Joker said that too.
Meaning, this is my quasi-salaried role. I am grateful to be cast in this role, and as well I am grateful to hold this position in your life, whatever it could be labeled. It’s unique to the 21st century and we’re discovering it together. If I come across as manic, as is my wont, please understand that I am merely and futilely trying to keep pace mentally with the world wide web, as I have done regularly for twenty years.
As part of the deal, I try to create something every single day. It could be a joke, an idea, or a page. It doesn’t always have to be major; just make sure you create something every day. Sounds so simple it’s easy, right? Talk to me in a year, if you went the whole 365. You might have a book or two on your hands. But without question, you’ll come to understand the desire to constantly create good material.
Let’s say you do what no one has ever done before; write an original gag every day for a year. Without outside support, how would this be possible, allowing for the time spent creating them? Of the hours you would be awake, many would be taken up with the task of conceiving and notating the daily joke. How would you organize your life and serious responsibilities around that?
Is it possible?
There are over 470 posts on this site, which I started in 2014. That’s a yearly average of 94 posts, which is about one every 3-4 days. This isn’t even my only site. Point being, this isn’t my full-time job, it’s my life. Your money makes this possible for another month into the future.
I do this without a net. I have no “safety” career. If I fail, I die. I’m always selling you something because that’s my job, as an artist, and I know how high the stakes are. I don’t run ads currently, and if you don’t run ads, then you have to beg for money. Clicks do not pay rent. Clicks do not pay bills.
So yeah, I’m now selling the originals of BIUL strips. I’m selling a lot of things, many that I don’t want to sell, but the fact remains that I have to pay rent. I’m a rare bird in that I got used to working out of a shoebox a long time ago, but I still have to pay for that shoebox. I don’t have parents or family to prop me up anymore, and I’m not a trust-funded squatter. I am working to improve my situation in the best ways I know how.
Without a net, ladies and gentlemen. High above the crowd.