Dear Tribune Media Friends,
I write this letter to tender my resignation. I will be submitting the final installment of Love Is … Thursday, November 13, of this year.
This is very difficult for me as I’m not retiring for typical reasons of exhaustion, burnout, or to “spend more time with my family” (yeah, no thank you on that last one).
I’m screwing the lid on the India ink for the last time because, as those of you who’ve been following the strip closely must realize, there are, after today’s panel, only 18 more ways to articulate what love is. If I did the math right, that brings me to November 13th with the final panel (“Love is … not secretly editing Wikipedia to ‘prove’ you were right”). And I’m not even quite sure how to draw that one.
Believe me, it’s at least as sad for me as it is for you that this streak of amazing success has to end. I know you won’t exactly be thrilled to read this letter just as you were getting the wheels in motion for the theme park and Adult Swim series. It’s a shame, because especially the latter enterprise was such a truly perfect way to tap into the 18–34 white male demographic that surely makes up the core base of Love Is … readers.
But, hey, I think we should feel lucky with the run we did have. If you had told me when I started this that there would even be this many ways to articulate love (every weekday now for 38 years!), I would have laughed. Not hard, because it wouldn’t have been all that funny. But I definitely would have smirked because, when the strip debuted, I thought 60–65 panels were the most that could be squeezed out of the concept. Maybe 68, if you threw in a few things that are actually really more lust than love. But that was in 1970 when love was just hitting its stride in the U.S. Thankfully, as time went on, I found this new emotion to be more nuanced and rich with material than I ever suspected.
Now, I told a few of you already that my retirement was imminent, and several of you, fighting to the bitter end to keep the strip alive, offered some suggestions for panels. I must say, I’m humbled by the effort, but …
Cheryl, “Love is … the other person doing the dishes at least once in a freaking while” to me is not love so much as just what’s fair, not only between lovers but also among roommates or residents of a halfway house.
Manasa: “Love is … getting to be alone for a day, like the full 24 hours of a day, never leaving the bedroom, and just watching 30 Rock and still-TiVo’d Six Feet Unders.” I feel, while that does come as close to describing love as many of my previous panels, it doesn’t quite make for a compelling one. Naked Female drowsily digging into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s in front of the TV with no sign of Naked Male anywhere simply would not fit the template of the traditional Love Is …
And “Love is … a type of upholstery stitching” is just factually wrong, Kent.
I’m very sorry, everyone, but while it’s been proclaimed throughout the ages in many languages that one must never underestimate the power of love, I strongly feel we shouldn’t overestimate it either. We just have to admit Love Is … is over.
But I will say this: if I were doing a comic strip called Pretty Good Is … my very first (or second) panel would undoubtedly be “Pretty Good Is … working with all of you at Tribune Media”!
Thanks for everything and goodbye!