Please enjoy this full disclosure: My favorite webcomic is running a contest and I’m entering this blog post in hopes that flattery will get me everywhere.
A few years ago, a friend of mine made an incredibly fateful, off-hand remark. He mentioned a podcast called Writing Excuses.
Within days I was completely hooked and felt like my practical knowledge of writing had been tripled. The podcast was (and continues to be) better than any writing class I’ve ever taken or book I’ve ever read on the subject. Seriously.
One of the things that made the podcast so unique was the regular inclusion of a webcartoonist. I’m sure I thought something like, “What could this joker provide besides punchlines and coloring advice?”
While it’s true that Howard is constantly on the giving and receiving end of jokes (most of them scalp or pants related), he’s brought much more than that to the table.
I became so invested in the podcast that I wanted to experience the writing that Brandon, Dan, and Howard had to offer. I jumped right into the Schlock Mercenary webcomic at the beginning of Book 8, the “Sharp End of the Stick.” (It’s nowhere near as racy as that first comic makes it sound, and if it seems like it jumps into the middle of the story, that’s very much the “point” [bada chsh), keep reading). I enjoyed it so much that I’ve read the archived chapters and kept up on it ever since.
What does this have to do with anything? Howard and Sandra (his wife and business-savvy partner) are currently taking pre-orders for the printed copy of “Sharp End of the Stick.” The thing I admire most about Howard and Sandra, is their [insert crude analogy] bravery. They give their art away for free and ask for support in return. This seems at first glance to be a terrible business model but they apparently do alright.
The second thing I admire most about Howard and Sandra is their determination to give back to the community. I’ve experienced this firsthand both with Writing Excuses and when Howard was a good enough sport to jump on a sci-fi panel with me at Dragon*Con 2011, despite being exhausted from the whole weekend. In an effort to give back to these givers back, I’m happy to help spread the word about the comic and the pre-orders.
Because it was the first storyline that I read, and because Howard’s efforts to pay it forward in the artistic community have had such a deep impact on my life, the “Sharp End of the Stick” will always be stuck in my heart.
PS Howard’s brilliant style of punchline-meets-story-progression directly inspired the way Bree and I are working on the Equal Opportunity Adventurers Guild. You can see some of Bree’s efforts by clicking on the “Concept Art” link above.