If you ever had any doubt about the power of webcomics, let me relay a personal anecdote. I’ve shared this with others before, but I don’t think I’ve brought it up here.
Back in 2007, my wife and I got a divorce. It was horribly painful experience, despite being a rather uncomplicated split (no kids were involved), and one I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I was already a webcomics fan by then, but I was particularly on the lookout for especially funny comics to help keep my spirits up. One that I discovered months earlier was a strip called Bob the Squirrel. It’s a loosely autobiographical strip about the artist, Frank Page, and his sarcastic, talking squirrel companion.
Coincidentally, Page was going through a divorce at about the same time I was, and he reflected that in his strip. He, too, was clearly in a lot of pain and seeing that, especially with his ability to still keep the strip funny, spoke volumes to me. Misery loves company, after all. Not only was this other guy going through much the same experience, at about the same time, but I had noted over the months of reading that we shared some personality traits that let me easily identify with him.
As the strip continued, Page gradually got out of his funk and started trying to participate in the world again. He even saw a woman who caught his interest in a local coffee shop. Bob pushed him into talking with this “foofy coffee chick” in the hopes that it would lead relationship. I read that strip on October 24, 2007 and said to myself, “Damn it! Bob’s right! I need to get myself together, and dive back into life!” I didn’t have any coffee shops that I frequented, so I signed up for eHarmony that night and tried to be a more active participant in my own life.
It was a defining moment for me. I started taking more direct control of what I was doing with myself, and have since went on to create a life where I really savor what I have, what I do, and most importantly who I am. I found and married a wonderful woman (yes, through that eHarmony account!) who encourages me to pursue my dreams; I’m much more active in the comics community and gained a number of good friends because of it, which in turn has opened a number of great opportunities for me; I started running and have completed several marathons, including the 48.6 mile Dopey Challenge; and, in general, I’m living life on my own terms and am much happier for it.
All because of a webcomic.
Epilogue: Page and I became good friends. He actually reached out to me to compliment on my writing, to which I responded with the above story. He’s since married that “foofy coffee chick” who is herself a wonderful woman. He’s also much happier for living the life he wants. You can’t tell either of us that webcomics haven’t had a powerful, emotional impact on our lives.