Some News to Wrap Up 2016.
I remember you from the handshake at the book signing in Austin, hours after the shop should have closed. 2008? 2009? Your wife was sick and asleep in the car, but you wanted to say hi, you had driven hours, I had signed for six hours straight on my feet, and I wanted to make time for you too. You committed, and so would I.
The book tours and connecting with you have been the single highest thrill of this whole ramble. (Now I'm talking about you, the readership, not just you, that one poor guy, who was probably starting to feel really weird about this letter.)
You were in the line at Rocketship, Brooklyn, that stretched for so many blocks that even Brooklyn noted that something was different in Brooklyn that night. Sazeracs were the fuel they gave me. James from Yo La Tengo took me out for Venezuelan burgers, after, in an area of town called Flushing. I recall little; I was face-up dead in the back of James's blue hatchback.
You were in the first Achewood line ever, at Isotope, in San Francisco, ten years ago, my first signing. Another line around the block. It was scarcely believable, this momentum, but I leaned into it because there was nothing that could have filled my heart more, after all the silent, solitary, hard work.
You were at the Achewood Chochachocon in Portland last year— Cons of which there have been very many now. I flew to the one in Boston this year, so unique and warm and kind were you all.
When I finally got over my fear of meeting the Internet, you, readers, people, hearts, were so loving to me. You made me want to keep giving to you, because you were such wonderful people that you deserved it, and your laughter was my real payment. To this day, I have created what I do because I know you are there and appreciate it. Your happiness gratifies me like little else. Your stories of the work getting you through hard periods validate it even more than the stories of unencumbered laughter.
I relaunched Achewood a year ago on Christmas Day, putting it up on Fridays, and I wanted to give it one full, solid year. I wanted to prove I could come back as strong as I ever was. And I wanted to make you happy again. So I did (at least, the first one — the second one I can't speak to). And now I am walking away from it again. It's necessary for me.
Achewood takes a huge give from its producer. It's so slippery, so complex, so vast, so old, and I hold it to such a high standard, it becomes all-encompassing. When I do Achewood, I can't focus on or give enough time to the securities I need to build for later in life, or to my human relationships.
There are other reasons. I know a very successful man who likes to reinvent himself every decade. I have been the Achewood guy since 2001. There are hundreds of things I wish I could focus on in life, and I am forty-one now. I was twenty-six when I started this. I want to do something different.
I still haven't written a proper book, and that is first among my ambitions. I also need to commit full-time to the fascinating business my friend and I started, Portland Syrups. It's expanding at an overwhelming pace, and it deserves my focus if it's to grow at the head of its market.
I have the sincere feeling that I won't be able to stay away from Achewood forever. The itch occurs every few years. I do not promise that it is over, in any capacity. But I am going to go quiet for a while and refresh my perspective. I will continue to produce gallery artwork, as that is a creative outlet that's truly come to fascinate me these last two years. It will appear in the gallery shop, and if you've never been there, please check it out. The evolution that's taken place in there might interest you.
This last little storyline—Golden Tabloid—intentionally ended by directing the reader to the blogs. I want to make you go into the Achewood blog world to get closure, and while you're there, I want you to see that if you haven't read these blogs, Achewood isn't actually ending for you. It's starting all over, in a world of more and deeper material than you could hope to read in years. The blogs are where I personally think the heart and soul of that universe live. They've just been hidden — in words. In words I haven't had to maddeningly jockey into tiny speech bubbles.
(And if you do know the blogs, I am willing to bet that you haven't nearly read them all, or might notice new threads and interconnections you didn't before.)
Thank you for taking me on this journey, all these years. You made it matter. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again.