By now if you are reading this, hopefully you’ve watched the most recent episode of Strip Search. If not, just be warned Spoilers and feelings lay ahead.
*****SPOILERS AND FEELINGS*****
It may be apparent that I don’t often wear my heart on my sleeve, partly because I don’t know how and partly because I don’t think anyone really wants to hear it. However, I just felt like now was the time to talk about my experience on Strip Search. When I applied I had no illusions that I would actually be picked for the show, there was just no way. I am actually fairly shy and introverted, and in new groups it takes me a while to warm up (I’m working on this). So when I found out I’d made it onto the show I was thrilled and terrified. I thought to myself, “Oh crap, you’re going to go up against REAL cartoonists.” When I got to the house the fear was setting in, but I pushed forward, I did my best to swallow the fear. I ended up overcompensating and turned out to be the house greeter. Was everyone else nervous too? It’s hard to tell. Maybe we were all just doing our best to stand upright.
We got to know each other quickly, and for my part the nerves started fading and turned into feelings of admiration, respect, and love for these artists. I felt like I belonged. That means a lot for creative people who spend most of their time in their head, or as outcasts. I grew up when being a nerd wasn’t chic yet, and being a fat nerd led to regular bullying. It’s why I don’t open myself up to feelings easily, it’s a left over defense mechanism (I’m working on that too). For me, at least, friends don’t come easy, and by the time I came home, I was ready. I had gained so much more than I ever thought from Strip Search, and I’m proud to call each and every person on the cast and crew my friends. I didn’t feel like an imposter just occupying space anymore…
…that is, until our names were finally announced and someone made the comment, “That I should be ashamed,” that I somehow conned my way onto the show, and took a real artists’ spot (well, shit).
So let’s talk about my final showdown for a second. Me and Abby, Abby and I, TeamTavis vs. TeamTangent. Let it be known, I was nervous going into this match-up. Despite calling her out on some confidence issues (that I have as well), I know that Abby is a fucking joke machine. She is just going to keep getting better. So when we went in, I was just praying for some good words to spark something. Then we got our words, and my mind went blank. Then Abby used her redraw ticket, and my mind went more blank. My mind packed it’s bags and left a note in it’s place saying “out of service”. So I just started drawing, hoping for a spark, a glimmer. Screaming in my head “WHERE ARE YOU MUSE?! WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?!” Then with 5 minutes left I thought of a joke, it may not have won, but it would have made a better showing. I looked at that clock, and went “fuck”.
It wasn’t terrible losing. I’d made friends, and now I’d actually get to pal around Seattle with the other contestants. Those were some great days. Getting to hang out, and eat and drink and draw, without the pressure of competing.
Still, as much fun as that was, it didn’t stop me from waking up every day for a month going, “That’s the joke!”. You can’t change the past, you can only choose how to move forward. So my focus is as it’s always been: make cartooning a career. I want to draw for a living, and I will keep moving forward to make that happen.
Some people have made comments of how having a family doesn’t make me special. Well, they may not make me special, but they are special to me. I literally could not do as much as I do without the daily support of my wife Megan. It’s not just that she believes in me, it’s that she believes enough in me to give me the time I need to draw, or merchandise, or write, and attend conventions. She is a superstar, don’t doubt it for a second. She has never asked me to once give up my dreams and get a real job. That is special. My parents have always believed in me, and given me the autonomy to make my own choices. They’ve believed in me enough to invest in the very first run of merchandise I put out. That makes them special. So I thank them profusely. Again, I’m not always good at saying it, but let it live here forever on the internet.
Now for you the fans. You are my family too. Without your support, kindness, and belief, I couldn’t keep doing what I’m doing. Taking the time to come up and chat and buy at conventions, making my comics a part of your morning routine, even shout outs on twitter, make you a big part of my family. I thank you for that. It’s up to all of us to make this cartooning thing a life long gig.
Of course my new family, my extended Strip Search family. Being with you, sharing our faults and triumphs, means more to me than you will ever know. The chance to be in this house with you, to draw, compete, and push ourselves has made me incredibly happy. Never doubt that I love you all.