I was watching the Academy Awards back in 2004 when my sister called to tell me that she’d googled my name and something had come up underneath it!  Universal Press was gearing up for my launch and CBW was up on their website.  She was thrilled, I was thrilled, and I had to immediately go look it up for myself.  Sure enough, there it was.   I called all my friends and family and we all basked in the glow coming off our computer screens.   …Yes, I come from a very odd bunch. 

I was sure everyone was going to love me.  …This didn’t prove to be the case.

After CBW was launched, I suddenly started getting emails.  The first one was lovely and warm.  So was the second one.  The third one, however, was quite nasty–and it got my attention.  Then my family and friends started calling and gleefully telling me about things they’d found on the web about me.  Sometimes the references were nice, and sometimes they were not.  Strangely, I think my friends were MORE excited to read me the mean ones.

At first, this was very hard to take.  Wait, people think I can’t draw?  People are making fun of me?  Why?  Why read it if you hate it so much?  (This is a phenomenon that I, too, am guilty of.  If I hate a strip, I am likely to read it every day, just so I can get pissed.  That is, until it gets boring, and then I drop it.  Obviously in my life, bad is okay, but boring is the kiss-o-death).

I also noticed that my strip seemed to be very polarizing.  It’s either loved or loathed, and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of in between.  My husband likes to say that Clear Blue Water is the Hillary Clinton of comic strips.

The first time someone emailed me a conversation on a forum where I was being attacked, I cried.  I went from having confidence in my work to being very tentative and worried that I sucked–and my strip suffered.  I needed to grow a thick skin, and I needed to grow it fast, so I just stopped reading about myself on the web for awhile.  This was wonderful for my mental health.  Eventually, I came to acknowledge that not everyone was going to like me, and that was okay.

I did keep reading emails though, and some of them were scorchers.  My favorite one was someone who told me I was the worst cartoonist ever in the history of the world to the eleventy-millionth degree (or at least, that’s the way I remember it).  Wow.  Out of all the cartoonists that have ever existed, I was the worst.  The bottom-of-the-barrel.  The zenith of suckitude.  Instead of upsetting me, this thrilled me to the core.  Finally, something I could aspire to!

I mean, I’d hate to be the third worst, or the sixth worst (as McCain was when he graduated from Annapolis, I believe), but by golly, the worst ever was really saying something!  That’s George W. Bush territory.  That’s the kind of thing you can get printed up on business cards and T-shirts.  That there, my friends, moves some merchandise.

Fast forward to the present, and I can honestly say that not much bothers me anymore.  Oh, you think I suck?  Yawn.  Okay.  Thanks for telling me.  Sorry it wasn’t what you were looking for.  I very rarely get emails from people who hate me anymore.  I like to think I’ve converted them into fans, but most likely I’ve just outlasted their interest and they’ve moved on.  Either way, and for whatever reason, it’s much more pleasant around here these days.