There’s Always at Least One More

When I started working on Existential Dale, I knew it was going to be a series of two or three strips, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to end. It seemed a little anti-climactic to have him just wander off the right of the panel and have that be it. I knew I wanted to keep working in the vein of taking things like existential dread and personifying them, but some of these are more fraught than others. Anxiety and depression, for example, are things I could work with, but probably shouldn’t. These are serious topics that probably require better, more sensitive treatment than me turning them into affable cartoon monsters. At least, that was my thinking when I started this post just about a year ago. It now occurs to me that working against those creative impulses is probably what has had me art-blocked for ages. More on that in a moment. That said, while I was thinking about this, the other one that occurred to me was the idea of imposter syndrome.

There is a bit of a story behind that choice. In the Before-times of 2019 I was selected to manage a project that would transition the company’s web conferencing, phone, chat, and collaboration platform to another provider. My piece of the whole program would be retiring the existing solution and running user adoption and change management. The scope of that project was unlike anything I had ever undertaken. Web conferencing, phone, and chat are major services for my company, and this would impact every one of the company’s 15,000+ employees. To say that I was overwhelmed by being chosen for this is, perhaps, understating things. I lost some sleep over it.

I talked with some friends about it, and I talked with my wife, Mildly Sensational, about it. When I talked with her, I was telling her how I felt like this was beyond me, and I wasn’t sure how I would do it, and wondering what had possessed my employers to choose me for such a big project. She looked at me and said, deadpan as anything, “Isn’t that just imposter syndrome?” Just five words but it connected a bunch of dots in my mind and made me realize I was being foolish. As a friend had pointed out to me earlier, I might be in water over my head, but nobody shoved me out of a boat (figuratively speaking, I would never be on a boat in the first place, I have terrible motion sickness), I swam there on my own.

So, the idea of personifying imposter syndrome was born. I think clowns are terrifying, so the image of a faceless clown really seemed perfect for this.

The Feels and The Serious

For a while now I have been struggling to come up with new strips. World events have not really lent themselves to readily finding the funny in every situation. Some of these situations are pretty serious, and need to be dealt with seriously. Better, more accomplished cartoonists than I might be able to touch on such things lightly in the course of making a joke, and I aspire to be able to do the same, but I also need to be able to move past the ideas that have been blocking up my mind for months and months.

What all that means is simply this, some of these strips are going to deal with serious subject matter, in an honest way. If you find that troublesome, maybe take a break from reading my comic. If it offends you…I’m not exactly going to apologize, because that feels a lot like apologizing for my feelings and views, and I don’t feel sorry for having either of those. I will say this, if you are offended by anything I put here in the coming weeks and months, maybe this strip isn’t for you. That’s fine. There are plenty of other comics out there, go find one that speaks to you.

For those who will continue to enjoy what I do here, even if the tone is sometimes serious, or the subject matter uncomfortable, you are always welcome.