Yep, as I suspected when I first heard a week back¹, Anthony Clark and KC Green have themselves a winner in BACK. We know almost nothing at this point, despite eight pages of backstory², except that there’s a grave, and somebody crawling out of it in a bad mood, and maybe some witches? I’m counting down the hours until next Wednesday and the two pages that will come with it
If the world were to end (in much the way it appears to have done in BACK) and I could choose just one webcomicker to let into my apocalypse shelter, there’s an excellent chance that it would be Randy Milholland. He is one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met (in comics or out), scary looking (good for keeping away mutants), and excellent (and funny!) conversationalist, and he’s got enough meat on his bones to keep a skinny dude like me going for a month, easy.
I kid because I love, and also because Randy (of all people) will appreciate the sentiment. So it gives me great pleasure that today is a significant day for him:
Ten years of self employment. Eep.
For those that don’t remember, a good 18 months before this here crime against blogging launched, Milholland was working a fairly miserable (in the soul-killing sense as well as the crappy pay sense) day job, and some people were bitching publicly that he wasn’t providing his free entertainments to them often enough. Milholland issued a challenge in the form of a one-time only fundraiser: if readers donated a total of US$24,000 — an amount equivalent to a year’s salary — he’d quit his job and do the comic full time.
His goal and deadline were met, and as a result not a week goes by that somebody doesn’t throw the fundraiser in his face in an attempt to “prove” that he “owes” them more comics than he’s presently providing for free³. Oh, yeah, and those of us who aren’t entitled pricks have gotten about 2500 comics out of the deal, so if you’re one of those people bitching at Randy, please stop.
Now I honestly don’t recall if kicked a few bucks to Milholland ten years back or not, but I do remember that the fundraiser got me a nice conversation which led to my first interactions with Randy. In 2004, the Harvey Awards were given out in conjunction with MoCCA Fest, and I happened to be seated at a table before the speechifying when a lanky gentleman with a truly impressive nest of hair threw a leather jacket over the back of the chair next to me and held out his hand. Hi, he said, I’m Neil.
I looked Mr Gaiman square in the eye and said You certainly are and I don’t remember much after that until his keynote.4 He mentioned the wave of creators that were existing outside of publishing companies and dealing directly with their audiences, holding Milholland’s fundraiser success earlier that week as an example.
When Gaiman returned to the table, I leaned over to ask him if he’d followed Something Positive before Milholland started making news for his funding challenge and he confirmed that he enjoyed the strip a great deal. At my request, he sketched on and autographed the evening’s program to Randy, which I mailed to him later. This was before Randy and I had ever met, and once we knew each other the look on his face when he put Gary from the internet together with Gary who sent me the Gaiman sketch was a moment I’ll treasure.5
So on this day I offer my congrats to Randy Milholland: one of the finest writers of real, organic characters; one of the finest attractors of crazy people; one of the most patient non-murderers of housecats that can be total jerks; a scary-looking man with a heart of gold. May you continue to be otherwise unemployable for ten years more, and more after that.
Spam of the day:
Screw that, here’s the Awesome thing of the day: Why I have no enemies in this life.
R Stevens (speaking of people to let into the apocalypse shelter) has always known that the way to my heart is small thoughtful gestures like this. Alternately, straight through the sternum and a little to the left. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best friends in known space.
¹ Ha, ha.
² Err, so to speak.
³ Milholland having a low and suspicious nature (it’s one of my favorite things about him) always checks said complainer against the names of people who donated and — quelle suprise! — they’re never on the list. The lesson here is not to try to be an entitled dick around Randy, because he will keep those records for the rest of his natural life, if only to spite idiots.
4 Not quite true; I remember that as he was looking over his notes for his keynote speech, Gaiman discovered that two pages in the middle were missing and asked if anybody had a pen. I did, and in about 15 minutes he recreated enough of what he wanted to say that I couldn’t tell where the replacement content was in the talk. Man’s a genius.
5 Also treasured: the placecard that Gaiman left on the table after the meal, which is in my possession and an heirloom of my house. No, I’m not a crazed stalker, why would you ask?/a