On Becoming a Full-timer
As many of you know, I have spent the entirety of my career in Webcomics balancing that, my family life, and a “day job” (actually, a night job) at the Philadelphia Daily News.
Last month, the company announced layoffs, and — despite my 14 years’ seniority — the chances of my getting cut were pretty good. The day after they announced the layoffs, the company also announced a plan to combine the newsrooms of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News — switching to a “24/7” news organization that would be staffed around the clock.
I’ve been open about the challenge of juggling a family, a day job and a webcomic. In the event that I wasn’t laid off, my ability to juggle all three things was going to be obliterated. If you alter my current work schedule by one half-hour in either direction, my entire day falls apart — I either can’t make it to work on time or I get even less sleep than the 6-or-7 hours that I’ve been getting for the past few years. And if my workweek is altered from Sunday-through-Thursday to, say, Wednesday-through-Sunday, my already dicey convention-scheduling would become hellish. Worse yet, I could be facing several of these schedule-and-shift changes every year.
The decision was made for me. Luckily, the company was offering a generous buyout to employees who would take a voluntary layoff, and I was accepted as one of those candidates. My last day is today. Tomorrow, I will jump on a plane and fly to Seattle for Emerald City Comicon.
A lot of people have asked me if I’m scared about leaving the regular paycheck I was earning at the Daily News, and I can’t say that I’m not. But more than that fear, I’m absolutely charged with excitement over being able to devote time to the many side-projects I’ve been trying to find the time to do in the past few years. When you see what I have planned in the upcoming few months, I think you’ll see what I mean. This is going to be a phenomenal year.
And even more than that, it’s beginning to dawn on me that I’m going to have an actual life for the first time in 21 years. I won’t be working nights anymore. And I’m not going to miss holidays with my family. Newspaper life means getting Christmas Eve off, but not Christmas… and the same for Memorial Day and Labor Day and Thanksgiving and so on. It’s day-before; not day-of. And this will be the first time in 14 years that I won’t be working Sunday nights. I get to live a normal life.
My actual schedule isn’t going to change much for the next several weeks — except instead of running to work, I’m going to go back into the studio for the second half of my day. And I’ll be working on things that I’m passionate about instead of preparing the nightly weathermap.
It’s going to be thrilling and scary and exhilarating and uncertain and new. And I’ve never been more ready for it.