Life After the Rocky: Year 2

It’s so hard to believe it’s been 2 years since the Rocky Mountain News ceased publication. I miss it and I know so many others feel the same way. I miss the many talented friends who were a part of my life for over 26 years. I miss the wonder of working at a daily paper, the creative energy of a newsroom in the midst of a big story.

But life brings changes. We all know that. So many of us have experienced profound changes in our lives in recent years. What we do when those changes occur is the important part. As the great Winston Churchill once said “if you’re going through hell just keep going.”

So, that’s what we do. Like my friend, Gene, who is finishing classes for a career change. My former colleagues, Kim, and Mel became teachers. My good friend, M.E. Sprengelmeyer, bought his own weekly paper in New Mexico, where I draw one cartoon a week. For me it meant starting this blog, which by the way is 2 years old today. Yay. Happy Blog Birthday to you all.

In these past few years, besides just the blog, I created a few others you can find links to in the sidebar. I also started my own creative arts and design studio, Littoonz Studios. I’m proud to say I’ve been able to keep the boat afloat with several clients like ESPN.com, the Chicago Tribune, the Guadalupe County Communicator, Mile High Sports Magazine, Colorado Rockies Magazine and, most recently, the Pueblo Chieftain. I’m also syndicated twice a week by United Features as well, which by the way, is owned by Scripps Howard, the same people who owned and closed the News. Last Thursday, essentially the same time frame the Rocky was shuttered two years ago, it was announced that Scripps is closing the doors on United Features in June and sending it’s roster of talent to Universal Press, a terrific syndicate out of Kansas City which syndicates some great strips (Calvin and Hobbes was launched there). So, more change, you see.

That said, I’m not out of the woods yet in terms of financial stability, but I’m making headway. I must be honest and tell you at times these last two years have been scary. Still is, actually. But, this is what I do, draw comics. It’s as much a part of me as the air I breathe. I believe God gave me a gift to draw and make people laugh and feel through the cartoons I create. I do my best to be a good steward of the talent he has blessed me with. So onward I walk, in faith, that this is the path I should continue to follow.

Being that I’m two years into the blog, I thought I would share a few thoughts. And I hope

you will share yours as well.

After two years we have over 603,000 page views. Our busiest day of traffic, for a cartoon about the Saints winning the Super Bowl, we had over 4,000 visitors. Those numbers are not very big, but they have remained steady, and we’re actually seeing an increase in traffic so far in 2011.

The content, for the most part, is still Colorado based. Local content really resonates with readers. It’s how we root for sports. We are Broncos fans or Saints fans or Rockies fans or Cubs fans or Huskers fans or Buff fans or what have you. Cartoons about the teams we root for obviously impact us more.

Retaining the local flavor of the blog is a bit challenging for me since I no longer have a local print media presence in Denver. Which means, well, I draw the local ones, for the most part, for free. Fun to do mind you, but not so good when it’s time to, let’s say, pay the mortgage.

Sports cartoons in and of themselves aren’t huge merchandise revenue generators. I’ve sold some prints here and there, and the calendars sold well the year we did them. My Elway book, published in 2004, was wonderfully successful. I’m in the process of creating some generic sports t-shirts and mugs and stuff that I hope can generate some revenue stream here.

I’m still toying with bringing back the caption contest. I love content that is interactive and fun for you to have a role in. It’s the fulfillment and mailing of the prizes that is the biggest obstacle.

But I’m hoping to bring the contest back in the very near future.

I’m still working on web comic which I hope will be ready to launch soon. I want one creative enterprise that I can call my own and have complete sovereignty over. It has long been one of my goals to branch out beyond the world of sports. So far I haven’t done that. It’s by far the biggest disappointment for me in these two years that it still hasn’t happened. Here’s why. I have one concept I love, love, love. But I’m scared to do it for fear it will take time and energy and not produce at least some kind of income. So it’s a bit of a dilemma. But I think I’m going to do it anyway, for the love of it.

Enough about me. It’s you I draw for. You I treasure. I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of this blog. You make it happen. I appreciate the time you take out of your day to stop by, comment, share a cartoon with friends or tell someone in you life about a comic here you saw. You’re the reason we are seeing growth in 2011. So a tip of the cap to you all. You are my personal MVP’s!

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