Match to Flame 201

Jun 8, 2023

Lisa’s Story had a bigger impact than I think any of us expected. The story was covered by all of the major media outlets. The book received a Nautilus Award and an Independent Publisher Book Award. The strips that ran in the papers were a Pulitzer Finalist. My usual global book-signing tour—of mostly Ohio—this time covered the country. At the peak in October, the hits to my website numbered in the millions. The most gratifying part was the response from readers. At a book signing in Akron at Luigi’s (yes, the book launch was at a pizzeria. A sterling example by Susan Cash, who was the marketing manager for the Press, of thinking outside the pizza box.), they closed for the afternoon, and we spent the day with people filling the restaurant and the line spilling out the door. The generous folks at Luigi’s even took food and drinks out to the people waiting in line to get their books signed. When they finally had to open for the dinner hour, we moved my signing table to the parking lot and finished the book signing there. This work and the response to it was special, and I tried to make sure I took in every minute of it because I was pretty sure it was something that wouldn’t happen quite this way again. In the end, my readers generously gave me the space to tell my story. I’d spent a long time learning how to be a cartoonist, but it took Lisa to teach me why I was a cartoonist.

Sometimes I imagine that I’m standing at the Pearly Gates before St. Peter, who’s sitting at a high judges’ bench. I’ve brought a duffle bag full of comic books (it’s eternity after all) and a copy of Lisa’s Story. Pete asks me how I might justify my existence, so I hand him the book. He actually sits there and takes his time reading the whole thing very slowly (again, it’s eternity.) Then he hands it back and says: “This is good. You can go in.” The gate opens, and I start to go in. As I pass by his judges’ bench, Pete looks back down at me and says, “But I really like the early funny ones!”

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 12

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