Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and before I partake in the libations that will help to wash away what was 2005, I like to take a moment to look back, take stock and examine where things started and how they ended.

2005 was a difficult year for me in a lot of ways. Lots of personal stresses. Cami got a new job. We sold our first home and bought our second home. Moving… THAT’S never fun. I lost my Grandpa and tried to guide my family through the aftermath of that. Still have a few relatives in the hospital. Somewhere in there when I was stressed out to the point I was banging on the steering wheel in traffic (it happened!), I decided to make a change in my personal health, started working out and lost 25 pounds.

So, yeah… lots of personal change. So it feels good to have moved beyond it.

As far as the comic is concerned, I don’t know if I was as dedicated to it as I could have been this year. Looking back through the ’05 archives, I’ve had more guest strips this year than any other. And while I’m proud that Theater Hopper is at the level where there are enough readers and other creators aware of the comic to help support me through a rough patch… honestly, that shouldn’t be happening to that degree.

Then again, I only blew off two updates this year. One was because my monitor fried on me, and the other one was just this week because I was still coming down from Christmas. So that’s not bad!

2005 was a year for milestones. We celebrated our 400th comic, our 3rd year anniversary and our 500th comic. All big successes. Incidentally, our 400th comic was also the introduction of our first new character in a long time – Charlie. Which could be considered successful or unsuccessful depending on your level of patience for slowly-unfolding storylines…

In the spirit of further transition, 2005 was the year that Theater Hopper moved away from Dayfree Press – the web comic collective we helped to establish – and onto greener pastures with Boxcar Comics. As much as I learned from the Dayfree guys – and I respect all of them – I think the camaraderie I have at Boxcar is a little more tightly knit as I was already good friends with Zach, Mitch and Joe. So it was a pretty smooth transition. Incidentally, I had a blast with those three jokers at Wizard World Chicago this year and hope to do it again next year!

Probably our biggest success this year wasn’t even something I did. The proper accolades go to Dave Buist from Taking the Bi-Pass for helping get our content the most organized and efficient it’s ever been. And I mean EVER!

Dave devised a new archiving system for the comics and the blogs built off keywords. So now you guys can search for your favorite strips, characters and movie references with greater ease. This has been something I’ve wanted for A LONG time. Not only for you guys, but it was even getting hard for ME to find the comics I was looking for. And I created the dumb things.

But Dave took his work one step further by also developing our Movie Review Database – and application so brilliant, I’m still grinning over it’s potential. I haven’t talked about it in a while because I’m still adding to it all the time. New movies, images of posters, cast information, links to the Internet Movie Database, plot descriptions, the works.

The idea is amazingly simple. All you have to do is create an account through the THorum. One you’re logged in, you can search for any movie that you would like to comment on and leave your own review! How cool is that! Like I said, I’m adding movies all the time. Eventually, the hope is that you can leave your two cents on virtually every movie Theater Hopper has ever referenced! How many other web comics are doing that!

There’s still a few layout glitches in the database that Dave and I are working on. Cosmetic stuff. Nothing serious. The guts of this thing work like a charm and it’s all thanks to Dave’s expert code knowledge. Once again, Dave – thanks from the bottom of my heart!

I think 2006 is already shaping up to be a great year. With my personal trials out of the way, I have more time to dedicate myself to the comic and push some projects through that I’ve been wanting to accomplish for years. I’ve designed the initial layout of the FIRST THEATER HOPPER book which will collect the first 52 strips in one handy volume. Eventually there will be two more volumes and the entire set put together will represent the first year. I plan on producing books in a similar fashion for Year Two and Year Three.

It might sound odd to offer three volumes for the first year, but I’m going that route to help me keep costs down. When it’s all said and done, the individual books will only be $9.99. When compared to other web comic collections I’ve seen, that’s pretty cheap. I want to make sure you guys get a copy for yourselves because it’s going to look really nice. More news on that in the future.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for sticking around and making Theater Hopper the success that it is. I’m continuously humbled by your interest in my work and only want to bring you more and better work in the time ahead.

Happy New Year and best wishes to you and yours!