Let me take you back to the spring of 2002.

I was in the last semester of high school and for the past several years I had been writing and drawing a comic called ZOE, about a girl who gets transported to another planet. Or dimension. Maybe it was the future, I can’t remember. I wasn’t exactly the best writer then. Anyway, ZOE was a much more straightforward action comic, you know, lost of jumping and shooting guns and trying to draw boobs really well even though my only reference was Cinnemax. After 3 “issues” of drawing ZOE I stopped because I was lazy.

One day, sitting in my American Government class, I started doodling on some loose leaf. I wanted to keep drawing comics but ZOE was taking too long to get through. I wanted to simplify my style, I wanted to be able to crank out more strips in less time. And that’s how I created Kate and Leo.

They were blocky, simple shapes, dots for eyes, mittens for hands. I’d struck lazy gold. Going with the whole “write what you know” concept I pulled from my real life employment at the Annapolis mall and decided that they would work in the world of retail. From there most of the early strips wrote themselves. Looking at them you’d have thought they also drew themselves, dear god.

For some reason I didn’t even use a pen for the first few strips.

I cranked out the first 21 Day Job comics right there in American Government class. My classmates seemed to like them. I learned a lot about my potential audience from passing my sketchbook around, mostly that high schoolers have a short attention span and don’t care for anything that’s longer than 3 panels. I also learned a lot about my own creative process, in that I was mostly drawing these things to make myself laugh. The good news was that if I could make myself laugh I could usually make at least one other person laugh and that was good enough for me.

The next year I joined up with the Campus Crier at Anne Arundel Community College and started drawing comics for our bi-weekly newspaper. Being a part of an independantly run liberal college newspaper was a blast. I barely had to edit myself. Actually, I never had to edit myself and got away with more than I probably should have. It also forced me to develop my style further, realizing I had way more readers and I wanted my shit to look good. Also they hired another cartoonist and I’d be damned if my comic wasn’t better than his.

I'll show those penguins
I distinctly remember this comic as the point where I said “well, I guess I’ll start spending more than 10 minutes on this thing”

I spend 2 1/2 years publishing Day Job in the Campus Crier, all the while developing the characters, creating backstories in my head for everyone. People would often ask me if Leo was me or if Kate was someone I know. I think, considering the “write what you know” thing, there’s a bit of me in Kate and Leo, but neither of them are based on anybody. I wanted them to be wholly realized fictional characters that I could do anything with, whether it was sitting around the record shop bitching at each other or being international spies and meeting the devil.

When I left AACC and started focusing on a study in film the comic dropped off. I wrote a few more issues of Day Job but then stopped altogether being too overwhelmed with working full time and going to school. It’s a shame, too, considering some of the last Day Jobs I submitted to the Crier were my favorites. But even though I stopped the characters never left my head. They sat there, dormant, waiting to come back.

Based on a true story
The last full Day Job I drew in college, I never finished this strip which finally reveals how Leo can stay in business without ever making any money.

In the fall of 2007, several years after I’d put pen to paper, I started drawing comics again. But I needed something new, a fresh start. I started a comic called This is 65 with the idea that it would be the opposite of Day Job. I wanted to make comics about everything, about my life, crazy things I thought about, about robots, about kittens and raspberries. And boy did I. This is 65 became part of my life and I soon realized what I’d been missing. I started thinking about Day Job and how it was sitting there, unfinished. I remembered that I had stacks of notes, comic ideas for Kate and Leo that I’d never even gotten to. Entire conversations written down out of context in a notebook somewhere that had never been put into a story. I attempted several times to start a new Day Job. I considered rebooting it entirely but that just seemed pointless; I already had several years of backstory I could just keep going from. Once I drew an entire new page of Day Job with the idea that I would start a new story and bridge the gap between the last comic and the new one. But that was abandoned as well.

Eventually I just said fuck it and drew a new Day Job. No explanation, no recap, just more of Kate and Leo having a dumb adventure, and that was “Chapter 1” And that’s how Day Job exists today. I keep trying to refine it and tell better stories but really at it’s heart it’s still the same good ol’ stuff. It just looks better now.

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Thank god.

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