Though I have limitless access to the Unlife backlog through the wonderful world of internet, I find myself saving out every Unlife image from the website direct. It doesn’t raise our numbers in any meaningful way; I just like having that instant access to our work. Maybe it’s egotistical, but I’m a fan of what we’ve done here. I like having it at my fingertips to show off to others and myself. But with each file I save, the file name and strip number rises up, bringing us today, where I see we’re at…
Wait, 509?! When did we hit 500?!
Last month, actually. Yeah, passing by with little warning or fanfare, Zack and I leapt past our 500th strip, and simply proceeded to 501 in order to conclude the James vs. Mica fight, at that point our most immediate concern. Business as usual. Instead of saying thank you, we poured our appreciation into the comic, its quality rising to Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan heights.
It’s not like this would have changed the content of the strip or blog post in any meaningful way. 500 is little more than a number that looks nice. Maybe it’s a “men, amirite” thing, but anniversaries tend to mean less to me because they are just a number. If anything, I get more excited for the number to that’s to come than the one I am observing. Gifts are a nice, if that’s your annual tradition, but Zack and I save the presents for Hanukkah (though I did get a Chinese Food takeout menu under my door… NoriMori, was that you?!).
Still, the fact that I didn’t mention it at the time doesn’t mean I don’t take in the significance of 500 strips. It’s no small task to not only not burn out in that time, but to stride even further and grow stronger than before. It’s a lot for both me and Zack to have come this far with such an obvious ascent in quality, especially into such unknown territory. I’m sorry if this all comes off as bragging, but I am exceptionally proud of what we’ve accomplished in Unlife, which has gone far beyond the scope of anything Zack or I have accomplished previously. Most creators only dream of getting past episode one, and here I am, more than five years in, the comic taking a very different shape than I could have anticipated back in strip 1. Guided by the characters, the audience, and my own life, it has expanded beyond its original boundaries, moving forward, growing into its own story. It’s bittersweet to think of how two of the original main characters I planned to focus on have been sort of… left behind, as the story moved on without them. Such is Unlife. Even James seems to finally be moving on a bit (though, as always, he did find a way to drag his feet along the way). Now here he is, his arm severed, a gun to a bigot’s head after throwing down with an evil politician’s lesbian zombie vizier. Who the hell saw this coming at strip 1?
Hell, I’m just realizing I’m fast closing in on 100 blogs for Unlife, which I started writing a little over a year ago. Bananas.
How should we celebrate a 500th strip anniversary for Unlife? We have a history of cruel timing regarding annual events, something that has shaped the tone of the story. A good fake out probably would have been to kill James (and I know we have a few people on Team Mica here… I do read the comments). But you know we won’t, because this isn’t a story about James’ delayed death. This is about what comes after. What’s scary. What can be overcome. What we really are when we walk the earth after we’ve been told we’re already finished, when we push beyond how we feel and even the realms of what’s supposed to be possible. It’s about who we are in that moment. And in that moment…
Honestly I feel like I overslept, talking about something this important without any fanfare, but maybe this is as a good a time as any to say I’m really glad to be here today. Happy 509th strip, everyone. To Zack, to Jena, to all our fans, and everyone that helped us get to this point. It’s been hard getting here at times, putting our hearts and souls into every update, sharing this with the world. It’s an accomplishment I don’t mind bragging a bit about. I don’t feel bad saying that we were victorious in making it this far, like James, no matter how much it hurt. And I know we’ll make it even farther. But it’s not about hitting a number for us, reaching out for a 1,000th strip or even a 1,000,000th strip. It’s only about taking that next step. That next stride.
To lumber forward, at first as a zombie and maybe next as something more alive.