18 years ago today Help Desk appeared for the first time on a web site devoted to news about an operating system some of you may not even remember these days. Each complete comic had to be under 12-15k in size in order for it to load in a reasonable amount of time on a 28.8 modem—15k was pushing it. The first comic was 12.8k in size, and my artistic ability was even worse than it is today. I know that’s hard to believe, so here’s proof:
That was the very first comic I ever published. It’s… not even particularly funny, to be honest.
When I started this I didn’t really think it’d keep going for 18 years. I know there will be people who will point out that in terms of raw output, whether or not I “deserve” to claim 18 years of comics is debatable—certainly there are comics who have been around for less time but who have vastly greater archives (just browse over to the Schlock Mercenary archives for the best example of that). Help Desk has had plenty of production lapses which make it eligible for any number of asterisks you like next to the phrase “18 years,” from 1997 (only two comics published) to the pretty regular “weeks and months without updates” my long-term readers have become resigned to. Even so, if you take the total number of comics I’ve published and you spread them out over 18 years, you get about two and a half comics a week, which is better than the one comic week schedule I started with. And if you add on top of that the occasional Kernel Panic, the even more occasional Old School Webcomic, the amazingly infrequent PCtown (surprise guys!) and—since 2010—my forays into fiction… I’m pretty pleased with my output. Even on its own, even taking into account the irregular updates, 18 years requires a certain amount of endurance, especially when you’ve got a comic that’s not just self-published, it’s also mostly self-financed.
So yeah, Help Desk is an adult now. That’s a pretty interesting feeling. And like many people who find that they’ve suddenly come of age, Help Desk finds itself at a crossroads—it doesn’t really know what it wants to do with its life. Most of the options it sees are kind of depressing, and it can’t really afford college. Hey, maybe it should start a band.
I was 24 when I started the comic, and I’m 42 now. I’m not really sure how to process that.