The Nowhere Band Restoration Project

So for ten years, from 2007-2017, I made a webcomic called Nowhere Band that was about life as it’s really lived in a music scene: a series of misadventures that are great and fun and affirming and frustrating and maddening and which, ultimately, don’t end with fame and fortune. I wanted it to be as emotionally real as possible. I always felt like I did a pretty good job with that, and got some outside validation on that front, both from individual readers (who I always loved hearing from) and from Minneapolis media outlets like MPR News and City Pages.

As the years went on (and the art and general cartooning craft got better), the strip moved from being about people in a band to being about people who used to be in a band and maybe kind of still were but weren’t sure. Which I think is also a headspace worth exploring, since that’s where we all wind up! But in 2017, after several hundred installments, I ended the strip because 1) I was far enough removed from band activity at that point that I felt like I was running out of material, 2) I was getting ready to finish grad school and knew that my thesis project was going to eat up all possible cartooning time, and 3) since November of 2016, the strip had increasingly just been swallowed by the dread of living in Trump’s America. So I gave myself the gift of writing the strip towards a conscious, planned ending instead of just letting it peter out the way a lot of webcomics do (and the way it nearly had a couple of times previously).

And I felt really good about that! Both about the ay the strip ended, and the fact that it had a definitive ending, and just about the existence of the whole thing. I still say, when asked, that I think of the complete run of Nowhere Band as my life’s work. I didn’t have any interest in reviving it (I am so goddamned tired of drawing drum sets), but I was very proud to have it out there.

And then in February of 2020, just as the early Coronavirus alarm sirens were starting to go off, I had the weird (I think unconnected) 1-2 punch of my ISP running a software update that nuked the WordPress theme I was using to host the strip AND a hacker getting into all of my Wordpres sites and infecting the hell out of them. My podcast sites were briefly offering up Ukrainian escort services; this site here was just frozen in time. Nowhere Band was simply gone.

I was able to restore all of the other sites and clean out the hacked shit, but the software update still left Nowhere Band unrecoverable. I had the image files for all (or nearly all) of the original strips, but the thought of bulk-reposting several hundred strips and fiddling with the navigation for all that, well, it made my wrists hurt just thinking about it.

Then I had the idea: what if I reposted a few a day, to spread out the work and sort of recreate the experience of reading the strip as it was an ongoing thing going forward? So I’ve been doing that, and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s not always entirely fun… I groan at some of the unexamined sexism in a lot of strips, and there are a lot of times when I wince at the visible growing pains of my cartooning skills (and not just in the early ones! As I write this, the repost has hit a stretch where I feel like the cartooning is usually competent, but the lettering is jarringly awful. But it gets better eventually!). On the other hand, I like seeing the progression, and I like spending time with these characters again, even if they a) are all just different reflections of me and b) can be total dicks sometimes.

So if this sounds like the sort of thing that interests you, head over to Nowhere Band to check out where the reposts are at! (There’s a handy Episode Index as well). I also talk a little bit about each day’s reposts on twitter when they go up in the morning.

2 thoughts on “The Nowhere Band Restoration Project

  1. I’ve really been enjoying the reposts! I read a few way back, but starting from the beginning and reading in little doses is quite fun.

    1. Glad you’re enjoying them (and sorry for the delay on the comment! Actual comments by real non-robot people are vanishingly rare, so I always miss ’em now)

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