December is here and it is time a bit of a State of the Monkey address, just to update everyone on where I was, where I am at the moment, and where I am going with the imminent arrival of the new year. We begin with some business talk and then we close with personal things.

My publishing schedule in 2017 was lacking and unprofessional. There, I said it out loud and up front. It’s true. Comic posts in 2017 were spotty and I know it. I am not happy about it but I am going to make it right.

If you know me, you know that I am always busy and I spin a lot of plates to keep the lights on.

The hard truth of the situation is that I do not make enough from d20Monkey (through Patreon and Paypal) to pay the bills. I know that I joke about “webcomic millions” but no, I am not one of those folks. I work hard and I make up the rest of my income through my position with Evil Hat Productions as their Art Czar, merchandise sales, and a bunch of freelance work. Even then, I do not live that rich cartoonist lifestyle. It is a challenge and I try to meet it head-on, every day, because I love what I do.

In 2018, I want to make a real push to gain support from my readership and drop the outside work I take on. I want to make comics, the occasional game, and keep Art Czaring for Evil Hat. That is the goal.

I need all of you to do that.

I have mentioned this in passing before, but I am going to put a hard point on it now: I need help to keep this job. I need folks who enjoy my work to consider throwing a few dollars my way every month. If that happened with just 1/3 of my readership, I would be able to pay the bills with room to spare and just make comics all the time. I would likely have the time to start the new Innsmouth Garden Society series as well. I just need support to make it happen. If my comics are worth a few dollars each month, please consider it. Everything makes a difference.




End of sales pitch.

On the personal side of things, 2017 was… bumpy but it has a good ending, so stick with me here.

I went into (and continued) therapy and worked on getting myself into a better place, emotionally while finally addressing some trauma and sexual abuse from my childhood.

I am working on saying that last bit out loud a little more but it isn’t easy.

Depression and my old friend the deep, dark well came calling several times over the year, and I did my best to make it through and climb out whenever I found myself down there. Climbing out is tough and with the added weight of old wounds, it was almost impossible but the hardest part of 2017 was this: I spent most of the year hating myself.

I do not say that lightly.

I genuinely hated myself. Why? Well (and I am not saying this to scare you off therapy), when you go into therapy, they make an effort to ease into your past trauma and chip away at the armor you build around yourself. I had decades of armor and every trick in the book for deflecting direct questions or reliving experiences. Self-deprecation? Yep. Humor to change the subject? Yep. Learning to lie and say you are okay with a straight face? Yep, I had that one too. The old Tell-Me-About-You redirect? Oh, that is a good one. I had them all and I had years to get good at each and every tactic. Then, I met my therapist and that all changed (insert Fire Nation attacked joke).

She saw through my crap immediately. I mean, in Session One. She was a pro and like a pro, she knew she had my number but she took her time to crack my armor open. When they finally DO crack it open, and I won’t lie to you, it is rough. So, to going back to the question, “Why did I hate myself?” It happened to me. She cracked me open and I spent most of the year living as this raw, wounded, shadow of a person. I wasn’t myself anymore. I didn’t want to be funny or kind or supportive. I wanted to crawl into hole and be forgotten. I thought I was weak, broken, and I did not deserve to live. I was taking up space. I hated the way I was crying and falling into sadness and pain. I wanted to go away and never look back.

That was all incorrect. I was wrong. I was not/am not weak. I was in pain. It was decades worth of pain that I pushed all the way down and when she cracked me open, it came through the walls like the fucking Kool-Aid Man.

I would have these moments where I would remember things I repressed and I would cry. I learned that I have triggers. I never knew it at the time, but I do, and now I know what some of those triggers are and I avoid them. I learned that it is okay to avoid those situations that trigger me and that it doesn’t ruin everything for everyone around me by doing so.

I remembered that I have value in this world.

I have responsibilities and a work ethic that calls out when I am at my worst, so I get up every day and I work. At the darkest moments of 2017, the work was tough, but it helped. Work gave me focus and goals I could achieve while the months went by and we worked on getting me back together. I was a Humpty Dumpty and all the kings horses and all the kings men, etc. and it happened, but here is the hardest part, it took time.

It did not happen in days or weeks. It took real, honest time to get here. The only way out is through? In my situation, that is absolutely true. It has to get worse before it got better and that is fucking terrifying, I know, but hear me out: it helps.

I know this cracking-open experience may sound terrible, and it is, but I will say that I am 100 percent better for it. The year taught me a lot about myself and how I approach things. I learned new ways to deal with depression and stress. Sure, I have my rough days, but they are more manageable now and it is a day, rather than a week. It is a few moments of a bad memory, rather than hours. It is a process that does not stop and it takes work, but it is worth it.

I stay positive. I pour myself into work that I love and I make time to play games and socialize with friends. I started lifting weights to prep for an amateur strongman competition in 2018. I started to remember the things that make me awesome. I remembered that I have worth and I deserve to be treated kindly (by myself and the people in my life). I am here, in December, beginning to feel like myself again and looking toward the future.

I know that “toward the future” line is a little cheesy, but it’s true. I want to make more changes and reach for new goals. I want this life as a cartoonist/writer/game designer to be my forever career. I love it and even if I have to step back and find a new 9-to-5 job, I will always do it. It brings me absolute happiness to create things that people enjoy. I love to make you laugh, cry, think, and spark your imaginations into new directions. I see it as this amazing ripple effect that I get to be a small part of and that, my friends, gets me out of bed each and every day. Thank you for being here and being a part of my life. It means everything to me.

2017 was rough but I am excited about 2018.

Let’s go.