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Five People Who Made A Difference. . .To Me (#2 The Cartoonist)

March 12, 2015

Rodney, don’t be afraid to take a chance and try something completely different. – Howard Tayler

Howard is my friend. Howard feels sorry he gave me this advice. He feels like he helped send me into one of the worst situations in my life. I moved my family across the country to go into partnership with a man who was a liar and a crook. Recovering from it took over five years and was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

Some people at this point might say, “It turned out for the best,” or “All’s well that ends well.” 

I’m not one of those people. 

It was awful. I hated it. Even now, almost ten years later, the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. And my friend Howard encouraged me to go. So, why does he rank as one of the people that made a difference to me? Not because he encouraged me to pursue a dream that turned out to be a disaster. But, because he encouraged me to pursue a dream.

It’s a topic that Howard is a world expert on. 

My interaction with Howard started, like so many of my important stories did, at WordPerfect in the 1990’s. (Back Where It All Began) We didn’t know each other well. In fact, I don’t even remember Howard really until I met him while he was at Novell as a manager over the Novell GroupWise development team. I was visiting for another project and Howard was genuinely excited to see me. He greeted me like an old friend. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I didn’t really remember him, and I sort of nodded and shook his hand and thought, “What an energetic personality.” We must have talked for at least a few minutes, because he told me that he wrote a webcomic, and he had recently killed off a major character.

It was at that point I became a fan of the comic. Despite that, Howard and I became friends. We had mutual friends. We lived in the same area. We both worked in the software field.

And then he did something completely unexpected. He walked away from a six figure salary and a steady, stable job working with computers to become a fulltime cartoonist. It truly was a leap of faith. It was an amazing thing to watch, and it was one of the bravest things I’d ever seen. 

Howard showed me how to be brave.

There was one other aspect of Howard’s story that has had a profound impact on me. Howard never misses an update. His comic posts every day. He’s amazingly consistent.

When I got ready to launch this blog, I asked advice from Richard Bliss, a brilliant marketer and my older brother. (My Brother The Rock Star)

Becoming an expert on the Internet requires two things: persistence and presence. Show up every day, and keep doing that for a long time. Eventually you will be considered an expert.  

My brother told me that lesson, Howard showed me. His work ethic is inspiring. He didn’t set out to make money with his comic. In fact, according to him he didn’t draw very well. This is his first comic from June, 2000.



((C) 2000-2015 Tayler Corporation)

He got much better. Here is today’s comic.



((C) 2000-2015 Tayler Corporation)

But, he kept showing up day after day, year after year. And through that and a lot of hard work, he became an award winning cartoonist. I have unashamedly stolen several of Howard’s lessons. This blog hasn’t missed a day in two years. I feel a sense of responsibility to you. If you are willing to check in every morning, the least I can do is try to have an interesting story for you. That drive for consistency, I owe to Howard.

Like Howard did, I recognize my limitations as a writer. However, just as I’ve seen his art and storytelling improve via constant practice, I continually strive to get better. If, at some point I were ready to take that next step and make a go of it as an freelance writer, I would go more confidently into the dark knowing that Howard went that way first.  If I make that choice, I count myself especially lucky to have been around when he made that transition. 

Why is Howard on this list? He encouraged me to take chances. He set an example for me. And he was and remains my friend.



(Photo by Vladimir Chopine from howardtayler.com)

Howard still writes his comic. June 12th will mark his 14th year of publication without missing a day. Schlock Mercenary is found here.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
Follow him on Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss) or email him at rbliss at msn dot com 

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