My son found them in my closet, stashed behind my least favorite dress shirts.
I knew, because I caught him trying to sneak them out.
“Those are mine,” I said.
“I just want to read them.”
“I know. That’s why I hid them in my closet.”
This is the kid who—as a six-year-old—singlehandedly loved my entire Calvin and Hobbes collection into oblivion. There’s a reason six-year-olds aren’t supposed to be good readers. The parts of the books that eventually made it back to the bookshelf were only spared the rubbish pile because I couldn’t afford to replace them, and because a house without a Calvin and Hobbes book (or scrap pile, as case may be) is a house not worth living in.
So it was normal for me to hide my newly-purchased Schlock Mercenary books in the master closet. A guy should be able to read a book at least once before the cover falls off. And my plan would have worked if the meddling kid hadn’t noticed the mailer-receipt I’d carelessly abandoned on the kitchen counter. After the hunt began, no room was sacred.
I’m not a big connoisseur of comics, but this one has stuck with me. I’ve followed the online iteration for several years now. Schlock Mercenary delivers a sci-fi punch line in every strip, and it’s written and drawn by one of the smartest people I know. And I work at NASA.
Incidentally, I got to sit with Howard Tayler and his chief of staff Sandra for an hour at LTUE in February and plug them about the do’s and don’ts of quitting your day job. They gave me some good advice, signed the previously-mentioned closet copies, and told me random stories about bog butter and what it takes to maintain the creative genius under duress.
Interviewing Howard and Sandra Tayler was definitely in my top three for the LTUE conference. (Getting there in a Dodge Mkmsdmmhgmmhmr ranks fourth.)
So there’s the setup. I have a box of funny books in my closet from a funny cartoonist. I also now have a funny thirteen-year-old in my closet reading through the 700+ page collection because I told him the books don’t leave my closet until I’ve read them all. And while I still have a full-time job, he only leaves the closet to forage for Cheez-Its.
If you like medium-hard (yes, I made that up) science fiction / space opera humor, check out Schlock Mercenary. The early cartoon drawings are “rudimentary,” Howard insists, but that makes them even funnier in my opinion, because I’m super mature.
I’m also super glad Howard quit his day job.