About a year ago, I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe with some friends, and one of them made a quip about me writing a semi-autobiographical comic. He was referring to DinerDate. Up to that point I had never even considered it as autobiographical, but when I thought about it I realized just how right he was, how much of myself had seeped into DD over the years.
Two years earlier, right after the original DinerDate ended, I started writing the sequel. I chose to write something closer to my heart this time, so I moved the setting to Amsterdam and changed the tone of the narrative. I wrote about 50 strips over the next few months following the lives of a group of friends, but it felt like something was missing so I left it to gestate and decided that I could probably only ever finish it if I moved to Amsterdam myself. Back then I was still living with my parents and had no plans of moving until I finished college.
Cut to today, my senior year, I have now lived in Amsterdam 8 months running. I hadn’t planned on it but the opportunity just sort of presented itself. And what’s more, I find what I had written all those years ago to be frighteningly accurate to what I have experienced here so far.
For one, I wrote about Anna, a foreign exchange student moving in at the start of the story; next thing I end up with roommates that regularly host foreign travellers. I actually met two Anna’s, who are not even that dissimilar from the character I created. There have even been times where I was able to utter lines from a few strips verbatim in real life. Those were surreal moments, where it felt like I was living what I wrote. The new direction for DD must have hit even closer to home than I initially thought.
It’s been an amazing and affirming experience, but it also worries me; I don’t want DD turning into some sort of twilight version of my life. Luckily there are still plenty of differences, and it seems my prediction was true, this whole thing has helped me find the voice for the new DD. Right now I gotta focus on graduating first (one month to go!), but after that I would like nothing more than to get back into the webcomics game.