It’s Time for a Million Anniversaries, a Chart Party, and, Oh, One Other Thing

I’m not going to lie: This is a pretty notable stretch in the SKTCHD offices.

If it was a real office — as opposed to one that’s primarily comprised of myself desperately trying to type and/or podcast in my home as my cats battle each other for my attention — it’d probably be a time for store bought cake with questionable frosting. That’s what you do in typical workplaces when big dates fall on the calendar, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or whatever. And it isn’t just one of those things on the horizon for me, but a bevy of them. Even if you just boil it down to the next week or so, you’d find a quartet of significant milestones in my world. If you expand it outwards to the next month, though, it becomes even crazier. Somehow, almost every important date in my career of writing about comics falls between mid-May and mid-June, purely by happenstance.

What are those landmark occasions, exactly? Well, here they are in order by date. Up first was the fifth anniversary of the current era of the site, as SKTCHD 2.0 — which is what I call the site’s second stint as a going concern, most obviously differentiated by it being a subscription site — launched on May 13th, 2019. Off Panel’s 450th episode arrives one week later on May 20th, a milestone that would be certain to earn my podcast a foil cover at the very least if it was a comic book. Then, May 21st brings the 15th anniversary of the first article I ever wrote for a comics site, as I started my journey writing about comics at what was then a brand-new site called Multiversity Comics. Lastly, June 16th is the ninth anniversary of SKTCHD’s original arrival on the scene, with the site and podcast both debuting that week.

Me, interviewing writer Jim Zub, all the way back at Emerald City Comic Con 2011

That’s a lot of time spent writing and talking about comics. Some might say too much, especially when you compare it to the totality of my life. Roughly speaking, I’ve now been doing this for 37.5% of my life, or 3/8ths for those that prefer things in fractions. That’s a not inconsiderable portion of my existence, and it’s only been during the five years of SKTCHD 2.0 that I’ve made consistent money from my writing thanks to the site’s growing number of subscribers, with Off Panel’s patrons supporting the podcast for the previous eight years as well. As I’ve admitted many times over, it turns out that it does indeed make a difference whether you’re paid for your work, and the latest model for the site has proven to be a mostly viable one.

That bit about earning something for what you do is one of the many things I’ve learned in my time writing about comics. Doing so makes it far easier to continue the work. The truth is, though, I’ve learned a lot over the years, whether you’re talking about the 15 I’ve been doing this, the nine SKTCHD has existed, or the five of SKTCHD 2.0. While there are parts of my earlier work I miss — particularly some of the looser, more energetic feel I brought to SKTCHD 1.0 and my two season run on my email newsletter The Crossover — I like to think I’ve gotten quite a bit better at what I do as I’ve continued to write and podcast.

How exactly that’s true will be left to the eye of the beholder, but everything I’ve done through the years has helped me figure out what works for me and, perhaps even more importantly, what doesn’t. It’s taken a lot of failure to get where I’m at, wherever that is, and it’s largely been in the public eye. I would have preferred to have skipped most of those parts, obviously, but they played a role in helping me become a better writer and maybe even a better person. Or at least I hope they did. Combine that all together and you have the formula necessary to make this period of SKTCHD the best version of what I do…for now. Hopefully I’ll continue to learn and improve from here and the next time a major anniversary hits I can say with confidence that I’m better then than I am now.

We’re going to have to back up for a second, though. Earlier, I mentioned how the next week or so would deliver “a quartet of significant milestones.” Attentive readers might have noticed something when I was counting down those anniversaries: I only shared three things from that week or so long stretch. That’s for an important reason, as the last item in that mix was the most unexpected part of all this.

I had been telling my wife Amber how bewildering it was that so many important things from my comics life happened in such a tight window. In fact, this piece actually started as a reflection of the five years of SKTCHD 2.0, and that was it. But with the news that my former home of Multiversity Comics was closing, I looked deeper and realized that all these milestones were compressed to a narrow period of time, creating a rat-a-tat rhythm to a bunch of big moments in my life. I honestly had no idea! I mentioned this to her because it all happened purely by accident rather than as part of a larger plan, making this May/June timeframe a period of great coincidence for me. All that made it feel like if something interesting was going to happen to me in comics, it was likely to occur then.

That’s where the final part of the quartet comes in: SKTCHD — and by that, I mean me, because I am SKTCHD — has been nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category.

When else could it have happened, I guess? If not now, then when? If I believed in fate, I’d definitely be even more convinced, because it’s just insane to me that this happened now. Maybe that’s why when I told Amber about the Eisner nomination, I just basically repeated “This is so weird” over and over on the phone as she patiently listened to me figure out how I was feeling about the news I had just received. Needless to say, I was feeling weird.

Now with a little separation from that fateful email arriving in my inbox, I have to say: I am incredibly honored. Big thanks to the judges who decided that my work from 2023 was worthwhile enough to be included with the other wonderful nominees. It means a lot to me.

And now, a quick break to properly celebrate…

And now, back to the regularly scheduled article…

The funniest part about this — beyond the timing, of course — is the other reason it was so confounding to me. I didn’t even submit SKTCHD for the Eisner Awards! I stopped doing so several years ago. Then, right as this series of anniversaries was about to hit, I’m nominated because some unknown benefactor apparently submitted my work for review. To whoever that was, thank you, because I obviously would not have been nominated without your generosity.

Lastly, I wanted to thank all of you, the subscribers of SKTCHD and the patrons of Off Panel, for your support. When I first started SKTCHD, I wanted to do things a bit different. The only reason I’m still doing this at all is because I found something that works for me, a version of a comic site that allows me to be me and to follow my interests without having to chase trends or clicks or anything like that. That has only happened because of you all. I know SKTCHD isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. But it’s for enough someones that it works, and that means a lot. Even better, the vast majority of you support me through thick and thin — even when I have to take a break because I’m nearing burnout — and that ensures that I’m able to keep this ball rolling even if I have to stop pushing it from time to time. That’s a wonderful thing, and it’s the only way I’ve been able to keep doing this for as long as I have and apparently as well as I have.

This last bit, the being nominated for an Eisner part, was not part of my larger plan for this piece. I had already written a first draft of this when that news hit. As is often the case in the world I live in, a rewrite was necessary. Well, maybe not a rewrite. Consider the Eisner part a rather notable addendum, something that became necessary simply because it came to be at all.

But because I am me, and because I love statistics and charts and those kinds of things, my original plan to commemorate these anniversaries and this occasion was with a series of charts expressing my comic book life through data. It’s how my brain works, and with 15 years of writing about comics, I have quite a bit of history to pull from to visualize all this. So, that’s just what we’re going to do, as my anniversary celebration closes with an abbreviated SKTCHD Chart Party, one that looks back on my comic book life and everything that has gone into it.

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