June 16, 2021
Hello. I’m a 48-year-old man named Jeff. Since high school I’ve been a comic-strip cartoonist, writing and drawing humor strips. Through high school and college I aspired to being a daily, syndicated newspaper comic-strip cartoonist. It was a big thrill seeing my work published in my college newspaper. This was during the early 90s.
Ramen Noodles, the comic strip I developed and submitted to my college paper, wasn’t that different in subject matter from lots of college strips. The setting was a college campus and the cast was a handful of students. I named it for those bricks of dry soup you can get at the grocery for about a quarter each in the tradition of the running joke about poor college students subsisting on them. As time went on I added two older adults to the cast, both out of college but struggling financially. They lived and worked near the college. The feature slowly evolved into something more than just a “silly college kids” strip.
While trying to hold down day jobs after college it slowly dawned on me that I might not be meant to be a daily, syndicated comic-strip cartoonist. Everything I read about the field indicated that syndicates receive over a thousand submissions each year and pick up maybe three among those to distribute. The odds aren’t good. And I realized that even if a syndicate did buy one of my features I wasn’t disciplined or quick enough to churn out six dailies and a Sunday, week after week – “day job” or no day job. At one point I set up a website for the feature but I learned that people will stop checking an online cartoon site if submissions to it are few and far between. Clearly some maturity and a consistent commitment to my craft were lacking.
I couldn’t give up on the feature completely, even after many years. I continued churning out RN strips sporadically even though they weren’t being published or uploaded anywhere. I came to consider the feature as a whole “dead.” Many of the strips were overtly dated, spanning from the early nineties to 2020. Who would want to read this collected material today?
A few months ago I pondered the idea that for my 49th birthday, which will be August 10th of 2021, I might somehow have what I’ve never managed to have – a daily comic strip! I initially cringed at the idea of revisiting every RN strip to see if a re-release could work. However, as I re-read the material I was encouraged; the dated elements were minimal enough to allow a forgivable quasi-timeless setting. A few minor details could be adjusted for compliance.
I decided that a five-strip-a-week comic strip would suffice since I don’t have a backlog of RN Sunday strips. I knew that I had enough RN material to last several months at five strips a week. One of my sisters brought to my attention that some strip cartoonists transmit their features via text message to people’s cellphones. This excited me since newspapers are dying and I’ll probably never get picked up by a syndicate anyway.
The task of scanning and arranging Ramen Noodles for re-release starting August 10, 2021 (my 49th birthday) at five strips a week (Monday through Friday) is now complete! It’s been an interesting, exciting puzzle. Certain strips, even “stand-alone” ones, need to “happen” before others can happen. There was also the challenge of shifting focus to the different strip characters at appropriate intervals so the readers don’t “forget about them.” Then there were the challenges of making sure school-related stuff is released while school is in session and having enough non-school related stuff for the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. And football-related strips need to be released during football season. And Halloween-, Christmas-, and Valentine’s Day-related strips need to be released at appropriate times. And then there was the question of season-appropriate wardrobe choices. Thankfully the setting is the Gulf South! We have some moderate weather even during the winter months.
Things have worked out so nicely it’s, well, miraculous in my mind. I have 150 “canonical” RN strips plus a new inaugural installment scheduled for release on August 10th (my birthday). My “last” completed strip is a seasonal one titled “Lent,” which is scheduled to be released on March 8, 2022 - the Tuesday after Ash Wednesday. Afterward the stage is set for the yet-to-be “stripturized” part of my most recent story arc.
The 150 strips I now have fit together like a Swiss watch! And that’s the real wonder of it all; I didn’t create the work in a strictly sequential fashion but to me the characters and situations develop naturally even after complying with all those considerations I mentioned above! This patchwork quilt I’ve slowly been knitting for decades is now the cohesive whole I always wanted.
Dreams do come true, with time and patience! Don’t give up on yours.