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The State of the Strip Speech

We’re just a few dozen strips shy of the THREE THOUSANDTH! Sheldon strip, and I wanted to take a moment to touch base with you all and give you a “State of the Strip” speech. Because, c’mon! We’re almost at 3,000 strips! There’s no better time to take stock of things, see what’s working and what I’d like to change up:

1.) SHELDON: As you know, Sheldon is my baby. I’m going to be creating Sheldon until my dyin’ day….and happily so. But there’s one new wrinkle that I have to make you guys aware of: Starting this week, Sheldon is moving to a Monday-through-Friday schedule. There will be no more Sheldon strips on Sunday.

There will still be color strips as warranted, and there will still be big, double-decker and unique-format daily strips like this, this, this, this, or this …but they just won’t appear on Sundays.

This is a decision I’ve debated for a long time, and I know it’s the right one. Traffic on the Sheldon site, you see, is dramatically lower on Saturday and Sunday. After five days of sitting in front of our computers, all of us step away from our screens and enjoy a bit of sun, it seems — and that’s a good thing. But when I look through the website logs, it’s pretty clear that people end up reading the weekend strips in a group on Monday….or largely don’t go back to read them at all.

But the more important reason for the change is this: I’ve been creating Sheldon daily since 1998, and plan on creating it until the day I die. It ain’t going anywhere: I love, love, love the strip, and want it to be the magnum opus of my creative life. But after 12 years, I want and need to make room for a few new creative sparks in my workweek — and this is the best solution I’ve come up with.

I understand that you might be bummed at the Sunday news, but I hope you can understand…and more importantly, be understanding in my decision. It’s not one I make lightly, but having made it, I know you’ll be supportive of it. Because you guys have never been anything but awesome in the support you’ve shown me over the years. Sheldon would not be possible without that support…so thank you.

But on to more fun news: Let’s talk about some of those new creative endeavors, shall we?

2.) DRIVE: When I started Drive, the intention was to try to tell a very different story from Sheldon: To try something totally new and different and challenging. So far, I’m loving it. And judging by the kind messages you’re sending, you are, too. It’s been great fun crafting a story four and five years out into the future, and then writing all the little stages to get us there. It’s proving much more fun than I ever thought it would. And in a nice twist, it’s actually firing up renewed creativity for Sheldon, as well….which is a great added bonus.

Over the next few months, Drive will be launching its own site, DriveComic.com, as well as a limited-print-run comic book at San Diego Comic-Con. So fun news is on the way for that strip.

3.) CINTIQ: As you probably know, every Sheldon and every Drive is hand-drawn on archival paper using archival inks. It’s a very traditional process that I love: The tactile nature of it, combined with the ability to hold up a “finished”, tangible product when it’s all done, is very rewarding. But with Drive, I’ve become aware of the limitations this style presents to a long-form, sci-fi storyline.

So I’ve decided to change tacts with Drive, and begin producing it digitally on a Cintiq. (A Cintiq, for those that don’t know, is essentially electronic paper….it’s a big screen you can draw on directly.) The hope, with the Cintiq, is that I can stretch and grow my art style in new ways, experiment with new approaches, and perhaps even be able to produce more Drive for everyone.

For someone who always fancied himself a “traditional” cartoonist, I think it’ll be a good flexing of the ol’ muscles to try out a whole new set of tools. Taking Drive digital will probably teach me a whole new bag of tricks.

And just an FYI, since Cintiqs are super pricey, and I’m super cheap: I’ll be picking up the Cintiq in the next few weeks, so if you see a great deal for one online, please pass it along. My inner penny-pincher will thank you!

4.) MYSTERY PROJECT: In addition to Sheldon and Drive, I should mention that I’ve started up a third project that I’m very excited about, but which I can’t really talk about yet. I know, I know…it’s sounds very third-grade of me to bring up a project that I can’t talk about. But here’s what I can say: I’m very excited about it, it’s my first collaborative piece since the “How to Make Webcomics” book, it both is and is not comics-related, and I think it’ll be right up your alley, when it comes time to announce it. More than that, I can’t say. But good things are a-comin’.

So that’s it! That’s the “State of the Strip”!

So thank you for helping me get to 3,000 Sheldon strips, thank you for your support in the new projects, and thank you for all the internet high fives.