It is with a heavy heart, and a sense of relief, that I have decided to end the newspaper run of Mr. Fitz and stop producing new Mr. Fitz comics at the end of its 22nd year, on March 27th, 2022. There are plenty of new strips to come before then, and I have a finale written.
I have always loved newspaper comics. I learned to read at age 5 very specifically so I could read the funnies on my own. My love for strips like Peanuts, Garfield, and later The Far Side, Bloom County, and Calvin and Hobbes has been one of the great constants in my life. From a very young age, I knew one of my ambitions was to have a comic strip in newspapers. And although I never did get syndicated nationally, I have now been in local newspapers here in Volusia County, Florida for 22 years.
Twenty-two years is a big chunk of life: I was 33 and had been married for 9 years when I started the strip, and my children were 4 and 5. I am now pushing 55, I’ve been married for 30 years, and my children are now in their mid-twenties. My teaching career will be 30 next year.
When I began writing Mr. Fitz, I hoped for national syndication, fame, and fortune. None of that happened. I later hoped that I might somehow sway education policy with my satire. None of that came to pass. Despite the generosity of my faithful Patreon supporters, I have never even earned minimum wage drawing the strip. It has been difficult at times to feel undervalued both as a teacher and as a cartoonist. Mr. Fitz has never really caught on the way some web comics do, despite brushes with notoriety, like appearing in the New York Times, the cover of Voices From the Middle, and in two books (now out of print) that I wrote for Scholastic. Having Ray Bradbury read my strips remains one of the highlights of my creative life.
In the end though, I would not want to keep at it just because I was making a ton of money, or because of my through-the-roof popularity online. The only reason to create, I have learned through a lot of soul searching, is because you love creating and hope that you are bringing something good to those who view your work – whether it is 7 million people or just 7.
Mr. Fitz has, I hope, made getting through your day a bit easier, and helped you know you are not crazy to think the system is wrong. But I am tired, and I need some time where I am not meeting deadlines every single week. There may come a time when I decide to start producing strips again – on my own schedule – but I have other writing and drawing projects I want to bring to fruition.
When I drew my very first strips that I knew would be going in the newspaper back in 2000, I sat at the dining room table and told my wife I was blissfully happy. After 22 years, some of that bliss has faded. But stay tuned: I want to wrap this strip up right! I have a lot I still want to say through Mr. Fitz in the next few months! And keep in mind, I have nearly12 years of old strips – 2003 to 2014 – to keep posting on the website that will be new to most of you. I won’t do the math on how old I’ll be when they run out… I plan to keep posting flashback strips, to keep blogging, and keep being a voice in support of public education done right.
I need to thank my family, and especially my wife Andrea. My wife and two children have supported my constant writing and drawing for over two decades as I doodled away at the dining room table or out in my studio, and listened to my ideas for strips and gave me feedback by either laughing or going “…meh.” My son, Christopher, in particular, has helped me with the writing on some of my favorite series (including “How the Dirth Stole Learning”) and even came up with the perfect way to wrap up the strip! Thanks to my administrators, who knew that my constant drawing at faculty meetings and during profession learning was actually my only way of paying attention. Thanks to my students (how many have their been in 22 years?) who have given me ideas for strips, and who have helped me to rethink so many of my ideas about education. Thanks to my fellow teachers out there still fighting the good fight, even with the odds stacked against you. Thanks, again, to my Patreon supporters, without whom the last five years of the strip simply could not have happened.
And thanks to those of you who have been reading and commenting on my strips for years. One thing I am proud of is that the little community of people who read Mr. Fitz has nearly always been a positive one. I am happy if I have brought a bit of happiness into your lives.