Welcome to a brief timeline of the tumultuous and thrilling tale of a dream that turned into a movement that’s changing the world.
In an attempt to woo Kim, Jason creates characters based on what the couple looked like as kids and they begin appearing on various homemade gifts.
Jason develops a comic strip based on the characters and submits it to the Northern Star, the official newspaper of Northern Illinois University. Kim & Jason is soundly rejected on the grounds that “college students would not be able to relate to it.”
JBiRD iNK is established as a real business entity for Jason’s freelance illustration and design career. The “iNK” was chosen to make the company sound like a real company while avoiding the costly incorporation fees.
Kim and Jason get married in real life. They are introduced at the reception to the Darth Vader theme, an unwitting nod to the Adultitis fighting that would come.
With the decision is made to focus on Kim & Jason full-time and turn it into a full-fledged business, KimandJason.com officially launches, and the first strip is published.
Cholesterol Killed the Dinosaurs, the first Kim & Jason book, is published. It was 24 pages long, was printed at a local copy shop, and assembled by hand. Dozens were sold.
First ever news article is published in the Wisconsin State Journal, with some sweet full-color graphics.
Jason publishes the first full-color Kim & Jason Weekend strip. With visions of revolutionizing the comics page, he paints the strip by hand. It becomes the first and only hand-painted Kim & Jason Weekend strip.
Just months after 9/11, Kim and Jason travel to New York City to walk the National Stationery Show and meet a licensing agent who is interested in repping Kim & Jason.
We attend our first trade show, the Gift & Home market in Chicago, and begin selling our prints and greeting cards in real live gift shops.
Kim, Jason, and Jenna exhibit their wares at Cheese Days in Monroe, Wisconsin. They set up shop outside Frame-It, one of the first retail stores to carry “Kim & Jason” gifts.
The company begins its practice of donating 3% of every product sold to a charity that helps children. The first check goes to the National Adoption Center.
Jason starts doing cartooning workshops in elementary and middle schools. Often visiting each classroom for three consecutive days, he guides students through the writing, drawing, and inking of a comic strip. The practice helps him get really good at holding the attention of an audience, which would serve him well going forward.
News Tribune, Jason’s hometown newspaper, is the first paper to add the daily Kim & Jason comic strip.
Frustrated by the continual perception of Kim & Jason as a children’s brand, consideration was made to give the people what they wanted. But after realizing that the real reason the company was started was to help grown-ups, Jason and Jenna brainstorm the slogan, “Escape Adulthood” at a gift show in Minnesota.
The first licensing deal is signed with a company in Japan, that wants to use Kim & Jason artwork on photo albums and school yearbooks. Naturally.
After doing a bunch of cartooning workshops in schools, Jason gets books to give his first-ever “Escape Adulthood” talk to a group of about 40 adults in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. It is a major turning point as Jason realizes he needs to do more of THIS.
Fueled by enthusiasm, youthful naïveté, and an overly optimistic plan to make a living selling books, Kim announces her resignation as a kindergarten teacher.
The team hosts “Cruisin’ for Wishes,” a fundraising event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at the Marriott in Madison. A cruise is given away and over $10,000 is raised for the organization.
Escape Adulthood, Jason’s first non-Kim & Jason book, arrives from the printer. It shares the philosophy on life that inspired the comic strip, and would serve as a major catalyst to help secure speaking engagements.
Huzzah! Kim books Jason’s national speaking gig in Seattle. The client pays more in travel than for the fee, but the duo is just thrilled that anyone would pay them to go to a city they’d always want to visit.
Kim and Jason kick off the Escape Plan with Challenge #1. Conducted live over the course of 40 days, the couple posted their responses to each challenge online and readers voted for a winner. Kim ultimately edged Jason in the final tally. His request for a recount was denied by the Supreme Court.
After coining the term “Adultitis” a little over a year earlier, Kim & Jason found the Cure Adultitis Institute to raise awareness for and and help cure this insidious disease. The Adultitis.org website launches and a month later, Yahoo! would name it as Site of the Day.
Artistic burnout and an increasingly busy speaking schedule makes it difficult to maintain the pace of publishing a daily strip. After several months of deliberation, Jason decides to retire Kim & Jason and the final strip is published on this date.
We host the 12 Days of Wishmas to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It features fun activities like ornament making, gingerbread house building, and a visit from Santa!
Establishment of the Twitter account, and with it, the posting of the first tweet, which was a ground-breaking piece of literature in 140 characters: “sitting at barnes & noble, which is a little bit of heaven on earth.” The company Facebook page is set up the following day.
Kim and Jason welcome their first child into the world, an adorable baby girl named Lucy.
Just two months old, Lucy travels with her parents to Jason’s speaking gig in Mundelein, IL. Seventeen days later, she’d board the first of 34 flights she’d take in her first year of life. For some reason, back of room sales at Jason’s programs skyrocket.
There’s An Adult In My Soup, a collection of essays written by Kim and Jason, is published. People who pre-order get a souvenir can of alphabet soup.
Jason delights the audience at a national conference held in Milwaukee, selling out of Adultitis First Aid Kits. Later, while eating dinner near the river, Kim and Jason spot one of the Kits “in the wild” when they see an attendee hanging out with friends at the bar. It is a big moment that serves as a sign for the couple that a decade of hard work is paying off and they are I the right track.
After roughly four years of not making any real art after the retirement of Kim & Jason — which Jason calls his “fallow period” — he picks up his paintbrush and begins making art again. A new adventure begins.
Just You Wait is published. The book is a response to all the people who warned Kim & Jason about how much more Adultitis they could expect once they became parents. It features a collection of private and honest essays they wrote during their first year of parenthood.
Benjamin Walter, kid #2, is born at home under the magical glow of Christmas lights. Read his birth story here.
The first ever Escape Adulthood Summit is held in Madison. Part conference, part retreat, part mastermind group, it is a wild rumpus of epic proportions that attracts attendees from all over the United States.
A big decision is made to emphasize the message over the messengers, as the official brand shifts from “Kim & Jason” to “Escape Adulthood.” The occasion is marked with a branding makeover that includes a new logo, website and custom font designed by Jason, called “Escape Sans Bold.”
A book agent reaches out to Jason to inquire about representation. A direct result of all the art he has been creating and sharing, Michelle discovered Jason through some art shared in Facebook by the friend of a client. She would ultimately secure a publishing deal with St. Martin’s Press in New York.
Kim gives birth to the third Kotecki kid, Virginia Rose. Ginny turned out to be an unexpected “next big thing.” (Read her birth story here.)
Jason earns the designation of Certified Speaking Professional from the National Speakers Association, an honor held by less than 10% of speakers in the world.
Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist is published. It is the first of Jason’s books with a traditional New York publisher (St. Martin’s Press) and the first to feature his full-color artwork throughout. It also inspires the 25-city #Notarule Tour and 2,300 mile family road trip to zoos, ice cream parlors, and book stores throughout the country.
The adventure continues!…