Zen Janitor is one of my most rewarding strips, because it's almost like a public service message! In the summer of 1993 I had left my job at MARC research because of burn out. I needed another job fast, and one that I could walk to. A temporary agency set me up with the University Of North Texas housing. They needed extra people to help with their summer deep clean up while most of the students were away from the dorms. After summer the school hired those they liked to continue as full-timer Custodians. I was one of them.
I liked it. There were no snotty suits or watching your back for somebody after your job. Everybody just wanted you to do your job. It was sort of like a big family! I, however, got stationed with two other custodians at a special dorm for The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science -- TAMS for short. These were not ordinary kids. These were high school kids from all over the world who were genius enough to get scholarships even though they weren't "college" age. Now, these kids felt superior to everyone, and if you know teenagers, they don't like rules or adults lecturing them. They threw their trash wherever they wanted, trashed bathrooms, and pulled some really messy pranks.
How do I get the message across to them in a nice way that they're soiling their own nest! The way I always like to express myself... comics! I figured if I threw in some humor, they would get the point. They did! And it worked like a charm!
Zen Janitor was not a week-to-week or linear comic. I would create each comic when an issue came up that had to be dealt with. For instance, leaving an alarm clock on and then going to class and driving your sleeping neighbors crazy, or writing on the wall. And, they got more than one issue about the bathrooms! It was a lot of fun, and even people outside the dorms appreciated the humor!
Zen Janitor was created from 1993 to 1996. The comic became popular when I started posting copies up in the halls. So popular in fact, many of the originals were sold to students, and many other copies of Zen Janitors are now lost. All surviving copies (originals and copies) are presented here.
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