Sugar Ray Dodge has become associated with fan work. My comic series, Mystery Science Storybook, started in 2015 and for many years was my primary focus. I took movies featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax and created my own illustrated parodies out of them. The first two volumes were very successful in the MST3K fandom, and it became my most successful creative endeavor to date. Then everything came crashing down in August 2016 when I was harassed by Birdemic: Shock and Terror director James Ngyuen. I parodied his movies in the first three volumes of Storybook, although he was only aware of the parody in the first volume. He didn't like this, accused me of violating his copyright, filed a DMCA claim with Amazon and every other vendor Storybook was on. The foundation of all of Storybook's success was destroyed. I spent two more volumes trying to rebuild, but it was all for naught. Too much damage had been done to the brand.
In addition, the MST3K Netflix revival in 2017 sucked up all of the oxygen within the fanbase (while at the same time fracturing it,) and there was no longer any interest in smaller independent projects like Storybook. There just isn't a place for it there anymore. More than that, though, by the end of 2019 and the conclusion of the fourth volume, I realized that creatively, Storybook had simply run its course and I was burned out on the series.
I have also been going through a bit of a crisis of confidence since early 2018. I don't want to get into all the personal aspects of it, I'll just give you the broad strokes. I had a job that I felt was important. I felt it was a chance to build something amazing, and I put everything I had into this job. Things were going great... and then suddenly they weren't. The tides turned hard and suddenly this great thing I was a part of was no more. It was brutal and it destroyed my confidence.
But Dave, that was three years ago! Have you been in this funk for three years?! The answer to that question is, unfortunately, yes. There are other elements that contribute to all this that I'm not going to get into, but I feel like I've shared the root cause of it. I have participated in other endeavors like professional wrestling, which was fun and I enjoyed my time doing it. But always behind it was this lingering lack of confidence that I have to get back if I'm to finally move on with my life.
So those are the reasons for the big reset. I simply need to start from scratch, build something new from the ground up. That's why I'm saying good bye to using the SRD moniker. I need to be Dave again, and that's what I'm going to be.
So, what can we look forward to in the future? Well, I'll be starting a new podcast shortly called The Dot Info Podcast. I also have written a new novel! It's my first prose novel in over a decade. I have taken all the books I wrote under the SRD moniker out of print for the time being. Not that I don't love them, I just moved on from them when I started Storybook. So we're a couple of creative generations removed from them anyway. I may revisit them someday, but for now I want to focus on the present. And that means focusing on this new novel and future novels. I don't know if I will self-publish this new novel, serialize it on this blog or try to get it published traditionally. Time will tell, but you will see it eventually.
I have set a new goal for myself, which I stole from Chuck Palahniuk's book Consider This, and that is to publish a new novel every year. Monkey, the novel I have spent the last six months writing, was my 2020 endeavor and will be published one way or another in 2021. I haven't decided what I'm going to write in 2021 yet, but believe me, I'm going to write something. This is my new focus, to build my own literary career and legacy. Comics, for as much as I loved doing it, are too risky, expensive and time consuming. Returning to prose after being away for so long has been challenging, but it's a challenge I'm glad I undertook.
It also means writing regularly on this blog. I started my own opinion website way, way back in 2003 right after the Iraq War started. As a rule, I haven't done anything political online since January 2009, and that's a policy I intend to continue. However, if I want an audience, I have to produce some kind of regular content. Like I said, I'll be starting a new podcast soon. But I will also be posting regularly on this blog. What about? I'm really sure yet. But there will be something, count on it.
So here's to new beginnings! I hope you'll go on this journey with me.