One of the questions I get most often is "What is your day like?" There is no good answer to that question because it's always so different. Today I will log my work day, almost as it happens:
5:00 am, PST
Wake to BlackBerry alarm
Eat a banana
Check e-mail on BlackBerry. Schedule a conference call.
Walk to office, 47 seconds down the street, still wearing shorts I slept in
Take garbage cans out to street for pickup
Get Diet Coke from fridge. Take first swig.
Pet office cat Sarah
Approve blog comments
Check Internet for headlines, just to see if any planes flew into any buildings last night
Begin this blog (normally takes 90 minutes to complete)
Cat is yelling at me for more attention. This will continue off and on all day
Open Photoshop. Call up blank comic strip form. Give it a date of 8/17, when it will run.
Open the comic already drawn for 8/16 to see if today I will draw a continuation of that thread or start a new one. I decide to start a new one.
Open Word file where I keep ideas sent to me via e-mail. Look for something interesting.
Notice a sticky note on my desk to check a web site for a potential business deal. I check it. I send an e-mail to United Media with my comments.
Back to looking at the submitted ideas. Time to make a comic.
I decide on an idea. It involves the conflicting goals of reducing overtime and also doing more work. This will involve Carol the secretary (the only hourly employee in the strip) and the pointy-haired boss. I start to draw them. I'll figure out what they say later.
[I draw directly to the computer using a Wacom 21SX computer screen that allows me to draw on it as if it were paper, using a stylus.]
First panel drawn. Boss and Carol are in conference room. I need to write the boss's line. He will set the scene.
Too hungry to think. Grab a protein bar and another Diet Coke.
Approve blog comments while eating protein bar (Clif Builder's, 20g protein). I have to approve the first comments quickly so I don't get a thousand comments saying "first comment!"
Back to working on the comic.
Cat is literally screaming at me for attention and sitting on some Japanese tax forms I have on the floor to remind me to mail them. I decide to drug her with catnip.
It's working. Hmm, cat on drugs. Maybe my comic can use that today. The boss might hire a beaver on speed to help Carol get more work done in fewer hours.
Can't say "speed" in the comic. I use Google to find out what's in Sudafed. That stuff gets me cranking. It's pseudoephedrine, I learn. Can I say that in a comic?
I decide to go with "beaver on decongestants."
I draw the second panel, including the nervous-looking beaver. I love the beaver. I hate the word "decongestants." Readers won't make the connection to speed quickly enough. Caffeine is too obvious. Red Bull is a product, so I avoid those. Energy drink is too generic sounding.
I check blog comments to see if people think this idea sucks. I approve some more comments. It helps to take my mind off the comic dialog every few minutes so when I look at it again I see it fresh. Back to the comic...
I draw a coffee cup in the nervous beaver's paw. I write "coffee swilling beaver." I Google "swilling" to see if a better word comes up. I get "guzzling." Not sure that's an improvement. I'll draw the third panel and get back to it...
Distracted by incoming e-mail about my restaurant business. I answer it. Back to the comic.
I rewrite the first panel so now it's about the boss noticing he is giving Carol way too much work. So he hires a coffee swilling beaver to show her how to work faster.
The third panel is drawn. Carol is in her low-walled cube, the beaver behind her. One of them needs to say something. Thinking....
Using my 2-of-6 rule for humor, I already have three elements. It's recognizable (being overworked and not supported by your boss) and it's bizarre (a coffee swilling beaver). And the beaver is cute. Something naughty or cruel or clever would round it out nicely.
Maybe the beaver says, "You can save a lot of time by not wearing pants." No...
I decide to go with this for my third panel (I can't show you the whole comic because newspaper clients have a contractual first right)
It's a first draft. Some time in the future I will clean up the art and finish it. I do my rough work in the morning when my brain works best.
Time to start my second comic.
First I check my blog hit count and stats to see if anyone is reading this entry. 12,000 hits so far today. And the stats tell me that a lot of hits are coming from reddit.com. That means someone submitted it to their list of interesting web sites to check. That drives a lot of traffic.
Back to the comic. Do I do another day with the beaver or go another direction? Thinking....
Approved some more blog comments. Noticed a few people saying today's Dilbert is extra funny. Checked dilbert.com to see which one that was. I'm always surprised at which ones capture people's amusement.
Enough stalling. Beaver or no beaver? Back to the comic...thinking...
Beaver dialog forms in my head on way back to desk. Not sure where it came from.
Interrupted by incoming e-mail from United Media confirming conference call for 10:30 AM to talk about the Dilbert movie negotiations.
Back to the comic...
I label the first panel "Coffee Swilling Beaver" to show it's a continuation strip.
I draw Dilbert at his desk. It doesn't matter who the beaver will be talking to, and people like to see Dilbert more often than the other characters.
First line from beaver, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it..."
Second panel, beaver says, "I'd still chew the bejeezus out of it because I have no impulse control." The word "bejeezus" is funny, but will give the foreign translators an ulcer. I try not to do that too often.
I approve some blog comments while thinking what angle to draw the beaver and Dilbert in the second frame.
I finished the third panel. Here it is in rough form.
Some people will complain that it's not "officey" enough and too random with a talking beaver. Sometimes it's good to break from the usual, as long as I don't do it for too many strips in a row.
Reviewed a license proposal that arrived by fax, for a Dilbert themed Soduko book. I approve it without knowing the details. United Media already vetted it and we do a lot of work with this publisher. If they think someone will buy it, that's fine with me.
Faxed back my approval.
E-mail my restaurant partner to schedule a meeting for later today.
Get another Diet Coke
Take 1000 mg of magnesium supplement. (I read on some unreliable web site that people don't get enough. The day I took my first magnesium supplements it solved 10 years of continuous sore knee problems. Might be a coincidence, but magnesium is suggested to reduce swelling. Don't take as much as I do. That's way over the recommended dose. Don't get medical advice from cartoonists.)
Answered e-mail from my real estate broker regarding some property I'm trying to sell.
Approved more blog comment. Noticed lots of people asking about the movie. Here's the scoop...
We agreed on a movie deal with Warner Brothers over a year ago. Since then we have been trying to penetrate the bureaucracy at the studio to finalize the contract details. In an ironic Dilbert twist, the lawyers at Warner who are authorized to speak with us are apparently not willing or able to speak with anyone in their own company who can make the kind of decisions needed to finalize the contract. Our current projected timeline for penetrating their bureaucracy is infinity. I don't expect the deal to be completed.
Answered an e-mail about my book, God's Debris, and some interest in a movie deal for it. Movie deals are always long shots, but worth looking into.
Answered e-mail about designing a new Dilbert logo. We need a catch phrase. I suggested one.
Took Longvinex capsule, a wine extract that will make me nearly immortal if it works. Google it. I know it's unproven. But the expected value calculation makes it attractive if you can afford it. Is it a 1% chance of living for another 50 years and feeling great the whole time? Who knows? Worth a shot.
Took a work break
Working on writing jokes for my restaurant menu. Each item includes a witticism about the dish. We're adding some items.
Interrupted by more e-mail about God's Debris and movie or mini series options
Phone call with president of United Media about Dilbert movie contract situation.
Still writing jokes for the menu. Can't think of anything for rib eye steak.
Nailed the rib eye joke. Sent off the menu.
Heading back to the house for a shower. Then lunch.
Then meeting at the restaurant.
Tennis at 2 pm if it gets confirmed. My opponent is eleven. I figure I have one more year before he kicks my ass. (His dad is a pro.)
Signing off until later...
Home from tennis. Had a snack and another Diet Coke.
Waiting to go next door for a barbecue
I'll end here, telling you in advance I'll be having a good time with fun neighbors and friends and getting to bed around 11 PM.
Thanks for reading this far.