Nothing Nice to Say
February 25, 2002
It just occurred to me that today is the 12 year anniversary of me first putting Nothing Nice to Say online.
I’ve talked about coming up with the idea for that comic a hundred times by now and I know everyone’s sick of hearing about it, but what I think I haven’t ever divulged is that the above comic that kicked off the series wasn’t actually drawn as a Nothing Nice to Say comic, but rather as an illustration on a flyer I’d made to advertise Summer’s Over, which was the zine I used to do before coming up with NN2S. Obvious when you look at it, as the format is completely different, Blake and Fletcher aren’t in it, etc.
Technically, and, again, I know I’ve said this enough, but the first NN2S comic was this flyer I’d done for a house show in the house I lived at in St. Cloud at the time (which never went up on the site but which provided the aha moment of me coming up with the series). And I even think, if I’m remembering correctly, the second comic I drew that would go up as an actual NN2S comic (after the above, obviously) was "Tire Sale", which is in no way a joke about punk rock. I was working at a gas station at the time, which must have somehow inspired that one. I pushed it back in the rotation because I wanted to introduce Blake and Fletcher and the premise of the series being jokes about punk rock right away.
I didn’t know what webcomics were when I started NN2S, the idea of putting the strips online was my friend’s idea. One thing I remember really vividly was that the comic got immensely popular nearly immediately. I had some crappy little counter thing you could log into to check the site’s stats, see how many people were coming to the site and from where, and I had absolutely no context for what any of those numbers meant. But a computer nerd friend of mine who’d helped me put it on the page looked at it after a week or whatever and was absolutely floored on my behalf. “Do you know how many people this is? This is insane!” And so on. I had no clue.
And, even then, so what. Having done a popular webcomic a decade ago is like the lamest trophy anyone could possibly hoist above their head. But, you know, it’s a thing that happened, for better or worse.
I do remember one weird thing from those days: There were multiple instances of people introducing themselves to other people as me. Does anyone else remember that? I used to write about it when it’d happen. I think the first instance was my friend Misty worked at this coffee shop in Minneapolis and they’d stuck a sticker I made of the "Life of a Straight Edger" comic up on the cash register, and some customer came in one day when she was working and was like, “Oh, you like that comic? You know I’m the one who does that, I’m Mitch Clem.” I swear to you that happened. And she was like, “Um, no, you’re not, because I know him and he’s a friend of mine?” I don’t know what happened after that, the guy must have just left embarrassed. But then I heard similar instances of this happening around the country, people emailing me like, “Was that really you I just met at the whatever show in Florida last weekend?”
Who the hell does that?
But now, just as I’m typing this, it makes me think. Because there wasn’t a punk scene in the country I was known of less than in my hometown of Minneapolis where the comic took place. All the friends I had there were holdovers from when I’d lived in St. Cloud. I wonder now if maybe this wasn’t true, and there really was some other Mitch Clem, some pretender to the throne, basking in all my recognition in the city. Some other guy on the guest list at the Triple Rock, partying it up while I camped out at the Spyhouse coffee shop on South Nocollet drawing all these dumb comics.
Now that I think about it, that seems unlikely. Maybe if the strip had been better back then…