I’d always wanted to start a webcomic but always had a handful of excuses that I’d whisper to myself late at night. In early 2017 the world was a dumpster fire, my real career was secure but I needed a creative outlet. A webcomic was not an obvious choice. The issue was, and still is, my complete and total inability to consistently draw a person place or thing that is even remotely recognizable as a person, place or thing.
When I draw a picture on my own I still have to explain what it is in the same way that a toddler might explain a crayon scribble to his mother. Only a few years earlier I had taken some weekly drawing classes. At the end of the six months the instructor, charitably, suggested that “maybe drawing isn’t your thing.”
Undeterred I spent the summer of 2017 writing out comic ideas, playing around with formats and graphics and really figuring out what I could and couldn’t do with my current abilities. I could not draw anything on my own, but I could copy and paste and twist and pull and shade and tweak existing graphics. I’d always been a fan of Cut-And-Paste Comics and there were some beautiful old graphics out there, just waiting to be seen and used in a modern context.
I experimented with a few different existing artwork repositories (old magazines from 1970s, commercial clip art books, etc.) but I fell in love with those familiar and engaging scratching drawings from the Victorian era. I began purchasing old books and periodicals from eBay and flea markets, scouring them for late 19th century illustrations and etchings. My bookshelves began filling up with old bound collections of Harper’s Weekly, Punch and Chatterbox from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
During that time I also started buying up silly domain names and modifying WordPress themes, getting frustrated, giving up, deciding not to give up and modifying new WordPress themes two days later. I don’t think anyone without a blog appreciates how much time and energy is actually required to set up, much less maintain, a website of any sort.
By late August I’d put together about five finished comics with another five mostly finished. The comics got a few giggles from my 11 year old, even though I mostly had to resort to poop jokes to get his attention. I published the first Parkington Park comic on September1, 2017. I then started publishing new comics on a (mostly) weekly basis.
It was a rousing success! An instant internet sensation!
Except, of course, that it wasn’t.
But I was having fun and enjoyed the process so I kept going. I found new graphics, experimented with new ways to layout strips and fiddled with software. I graduated college with a degree in English and minor in Computer Science and this was right up my alley. But eventually the publishing rate slowed down as I had to deal with server issues and website crashes. It was disheartening to rebuild. But I did. I kept making comics on an occasional basis as the world was engulfed in a pandemic. And then another server crash and… I stopped. I walked away from the quirky characters and the familiar settings and spent some time in the real world.
No one really cared or even noticed that my little comic was gone. But I didn’t forget it. I kept scribbling down new ideas. I still scanned eBay for well-priced illustrated collections. I still fired up Photoshop from time to time and messed around with a concept.
And, finally, I found myself with some free time and a little creative energy again. So I’m off to visit that strange little English town called Parkington Park.