So I haven't sent a single message out since Chapters 6 & 7 dropped a few months back, and other than pestering you to buy the latest issue, I haven't had too much to say other than "stay tuned, more is coming," and then decide what art to drop to keep things interesting.
But now it's 2024, which means that Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader is entering its 18th year. My life's work is now an adult, 100% legal, and pretty mature for a teenager at least compared to me when I was its age.
I celebrate two birthdays on September 13th, my own and Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader's, because on September 13th, 2006, I presented Cult Leader to a packed house of spectators and a line of judges during a pitch contest at the New York Television Festival. See screenshot of the press coverage below.
There were 15 entries and it was narrowed down to five, and I wasn't one of them. Four of the five finalists were cartoons, and one of the judges asked if I ever considered making Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader into a cartoon. I told her that I would give it some consideration.
I found an artist, an old childhood friend named Matt and fast forward six years later, to the month, my artistic partner and I premiered Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader--the pilot--at the Kessler Theater in Dallas, Texas. Based on the reception, I created a joint venture with Keith Alcorn, co-creator of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, and a manager based in L.A.
I got so far as pitching the show for Fred Siebert, who was the executive producer of Adventure Time, and he really liked the show, clapped, asked for more info, and wanted to schedule a second meeting. But then he found out we had families, had decent jobs and there was zero chance of us picking up sticks and working for peanuts out in L.A. or NYC, which is what all nobodies have to do, no matter how terrific their pitch is. Never got that second meeting with Fred.
So my partner and I decided to pivot, create a serialized graphic novel, and pivot some more by setting the show in the 90s instead of the "present day" because we were getting long in the tooth and felt we weren’t hip enough to write in the modern era anymore.
Then we decided that we would have the best of both worlds: two timelines, one in the "present day" and the other set in the mid-nineties, and after that the storylines began writing themselves. About a quarter way through Chapter 1, Matt decided he wanted to move on to other projects, leaving me more time to write, think and do some world-building. I had been working with another artist on some other projects, Jo Diaz, and she quickly picked up where we last left off.
Things came together for the novel just as the world came apart during the Panic of 2020. That time period, with the lockdowns, the riots, the election and so on, acted as a crucible for all the ideas I had for Cult Leader. By the time 2021 rolled around, I had Chapter One finished and self-published. In fact I had three chapters finished by the time the Dallas Fan Expo came about in September of that year.
At the time, I didn't know how many chapters I would write, but I knew I need to tell the full story, whether that was 5 chapters or 50. Glad to say that this year--with my goal being by June--I will have Volume One, published and available, something big and chunky, and worth reading from beginning to end. It'll be 11 chapters long, about 350 pages.
So until then, I'll soon publish the two latest stand-alone chapters, 8 and 9, which focus on Dalixolo, all the while I put the finishing touches on Libi's story arc, who we last saw in Chapter 5. That's Chapter 10. Chapter 11 will be the One Where It All Comes Together.
It's been great hearing from the folks who do read the graphic novel; all of your feedback is not only motivational, but also helpful. I've made significant changes based on your honest critiques, and Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader wouldn't be the same without it.