Monday, April 13, 2015

Mom's Cancer on!

I've been waiting a long time to announce this....

Beginning next Monday, April 20, Mom's Cancer returns to the Internet on Universal Uclick's Free.

I'll parse that sentence: Universal is one of the largest press syndicates in the world, providing comics and columnists for newspapers worldwide. They're the syndicate of Garfield, Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes, Dear Abby, and my secret crush Miss Manners. Universal Uclick is their online arm, and is the bit of that arm (ulna?) that provides their comic strips online. Folks can set up an account to read all their favorite comics for free. They get a million visits per day.

That doesn't mean that a million people are going to read Mom's Cancer. Readers have to choose it from a list and add it to their subscriptions. I hope some will. We'll see. Even a few new readers I never would've had otherwise would be better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

This means a lot to me.

Mom's Cancer started as a free webcomic, on a primitive site I hosted myself. When I signed my book contract with Abrams, they quite reasonably asked me to take it down so my free version wouldn't compete with something they were going to ask people to pay for. I was happy to do that.

Time passed. Except for a few perennial sellers, the life of a book has an ebb and flow. If you're lucky, there's a small flurry of reviews and events when the book comes out (if you're not lucky, it's just another raindrop in the lake that nobody notices). It stays on the bookstore shelves a while, then it's pulled from the shelves to make room for new books.

(This was something about the book business I was shocked to learn: say a bookstore orders X copies of your book and sells them all. You, Joe Author, think "Great, now they'll order more copies!" But Bev Bookseller thinks "Great, now I have space to put all these new books!" Unless you're To Kill a Mockingbird, bookstores really don't want you hanging around.)

As Mom's Cancer slid into the tail end of that curve, I occasionally broached to Abrams the idea of putting it back online. One of the paradoxical discoveries of the new webcomic era is that readers actually will pay money for a collection of work they can read online for nothing, and I thought that might help boost sales for the print Mom's Cancer. But mostly, as the book became harder to find or order in stores, I wanted the story to stay available to people who might benefit from it.

Well, that broaching never went far until Universal's President and Editorial Director John Glynn contacted me out of the blue many months ago asking if I were interested in adding Mom's Cancer to Why, yes indeed, I was. Acutely! I talked to Abrams, Abrams and Universal talked to each other, lawyers got involved, somewhere deep in space a hydrogen nebula condensed into a star, and at last Mom's Cancer debuts on next week.

I think of this as Mom's Cancer's return home.

We'll post a page a week, so it'll take about two years to publish the whole book. We're trying to figure out ways to add notes, annotations, sketches, etc. without interrupting the flow of the story. I have some behind-the-scenes material, plus several years of perspective, that I think some readers will appreciate.

Thanks to John Glynn and Shena Wolf at Universal, and Charlie Kochman and Lindy Humphreys at Abrams. This part's going to sound sappy but it's sincere: all I want is for people who need the story to find it, and they made it happen.


Anonymous said...

I started reading this wonderful book online way back and worried and said prayers with you. Have been following you ever since. This is such good news. Hope people have the sense to sign up for it. Somehow they will need to know that it is something they need.. Best of luck...
csotd's Mom

Brian Fies said...

Thanks for your support all this time, Ronnie, you're the best. Your boy's OK, too.

Brubaker said...

Good luck, Brian! Here's hoping you get new readers!

Unknown said...

Hi Brian, writing you from the hospital, my home for the past week as my mom recovers from a post chemo infection. She has stage 4 lung cancer. I just finished The Emporer of All Maladies and was looking for more reading material. Happy to hear it will be available online and in the meantime I'll just have to get a copy of my own. +1 reader. Thanks.

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, Brubaker. Graham, I'm very sorry for what your mom and family are going through right now. If you do read "Mom's Cancer" I hope it lets you know you're not alone. But if you can't bring yourself to pick it up, I get that too. You're living it.