This is a little annoying, but I have to throw it out there.
It’s a new month, which means the voting tallies have been reset at Top Web Comics. If you could throw a vote Theater Hopper’s way, I would appreciate it.
We did pretty well last month. We managed to crack the Top 100 and had a comfortable spot at 97 on the list as the year closed out. I think that’s pretty amazing for a comic that only updates once a week. Please continue to keep up the great work. Vote from home, vote from work, vote from your smart phone – it all counts. And don’t forget to VOTE DAILY. That’s the most important part. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to do it. That’s why I draw those incentive images, don’t you know? They’re a little reward. Wanna see today’s comic through the eyes of the snowflake? Just click on this link to vote and you can!
As for the comic, yeah, I know that New Year’s Eve has come and gone. I wanted to do something a little romantic. Don’t hold it against me.
Normally I take stock at the end of the year and reflect a little bit. I did some of that last week, but I didn’t indulge in the deep dive I normally take. I guess that’s because my what I want to say about Theater Hopper in 2011 and what Theater Hopper will look like in 2012 doesn’t neatly line up with celestial events. I have a lot to say about the topic, but now doesn’t feel right. Maybe I’m putting it off a little bit – avoiding it. But I also want to make sure what comes next is expressed correctly. I don’t want to leave any confusion or doubt in your minds.
Annoyingly vague enough for you? Don’t worry. Explanations will be forthcoming. Consider this comic a taste of what 2012 looks like.
Let’s avoid the movie commentary for right now and just let it speak for itself a little bit. The rest will reveal itself soon.
I wish the very most to you and yours in 2012. May the New Year greet you warmly. I will talk to you soon.
A quick bit of business… If you want to see a humorous take on the “family” Tom is referring in today’s comic, be sure to vote for Theater Hopper at Top Web Comics for a funny little incentive image. We were in the middle of the pack last week. Now we’ve fallen down to #91 on the list. Let’s see if we can turn that around. And don’t forget to vote daily!
Now for a very important announcement…
Originally, I was going to make this announcement last week. I thought it made sense to start the New Year with this, but decided at the last minute that perhaps a more romantic reprieve would ease us into things. Now I realize I was kind of running from the inevitable. I’ve never been the kind of guy to pull a band-aid off in one sharp pull. But I can’t hide from it any longer.
On August 6, 2012, I will be ending Theater Hopper.
I didn’t come to the decision lightly. I’ve been debating about whether to end Theater Hopper for over a year now. Even though I thought I was mentally prepared, it doesn’t make the challenge of sharing this announcement any easier.
There are a couple of reasons why I’ve decided to end Theater Hopper and why I’ve set a deadline so far out into the future.
First, the deadline. I wanted to give everyone a head’s up in advance mostly because I thought you – the audience member – deserved it. Nothing disheartens me more than to become invested in a comic I really, really like and see it end out of nowhere for no reason. It always leaves me with the feeling of “What if?” and I think you guys deserve better than that.
Setting a deadline that far into the future gives me an opportunity to wrap up a few lingering story lines and also moves the characters into a place where you know they’re going to be “okay.”
Plus, like I said, I’m not a “tear the band-aid off” kind of guy, remember.
August 6, 2012 will be one day past the 10 year anniversary of the comic and I like the idea of going out that way. Call me crazy – I just like round numbers. It’ll be a tidy break.
10 years is a crazy amount of time to do anything. Writing and drawing Theater Hopper is the longest job I’ve ever had. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but it’s time to let it go.
Part of my motivation is that I can’t maintain a level of quality for the comic that I feel is fair to you or to me. It takes me a long time to put together a comic. Anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. That was one of the primary reasons I went from three strips a week to one. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever managed to produce three a week – especially while I was going to night classes, pursuing my Master’s for two years! I guess I just had momentum behind me.
But the point is that I don’t think I can evolve my art or my technique to a point that will improve the comic or lessen my time investment. If I can’t grow or improve, then it makes it hard to justify continuing. The frustration of those limitations strips all the fun right out of it.
A lot of what makes Theater Hopper complicated to produce is coloring and shading. I don’t enjoy doing it and I’ve never been very good at it. But I’ve picked up enough tricks along the way that it doesn’t stick out too bad.
I’ve talked to a few of my contemporaries about this and they’ve suggested going to black and white as a way to streamline things. The see no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. To jettison the investment I’ve made in building up the brand and viability of the domain. They’ve made strong cases for me to reformat the comic in order to salvage it.
I’ve considered it. Switching to black and white would improve my attitude toward the work significantly. Truthfully, it might even increase my output to more than one comic a week. When you get down to brass tacks, all people really want is more content. They probably aren’t overtly concerned about all the bells and whistles thrown into the coloring and shading of a comic. I mean, look at XKCD, for God’s sake!
But, to me, that’s a step backwards. Going to black and white kind of spits in the face of the effort I’ve made so far to build my art up to what it is toady.
Taking the comic from three times a week to once a week was a loss for me. Taking the comic from color to black and white would be another loss – one I don’t think I could bear.
It is not my wish that Theater Hopper’s legacy become reductive. Stripping away the elements of what made it successful will eventually leave me with nothing. That’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to the audience that has supported me for so long. This is the way it has to be.
My concerns about the art also does not solve the content problem I feel like I’ve been ignoring for probably the last… five years.
I feel like I still have stories to tell. But the conceit that Theater Hopper is “a comic about movies” has handcuffed me. Once Cami and I had kids, the amount of movies we went to see dropped off dramatically. I don’t think this would come as a surprise to anyone. But it kind of creates a situation when you write a comic that’s about movies.
As a result of this life change, Theater Hopper became less about movies and more about how movies are marketed. And while marketing is a personal interest of mine, I can’t deny that this evolution has made me feel somewhat fraudulent over the years.
Truthfully, I thought like Theater Hopper would end after Henry was born. I always told myself that once we had kids, there wouldn’t be room for comics.
That was largely fear and inexperience talking at the time. Having kids changed my life, of course. But I was able to compromise a little bit and continue pursuing the art that I loved to make. I’m glad I did. Some of Theater Hopper’s most successful years came after Henry was born. I self-published three books. I traveled the country exhibiting at comic book conventions. I met awesome people and made life-long friends. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
But there comes a time when one realizes that you can’t go on forever. I realize now that it’s time to move on. This post is just as much as head’s up for you as it is for me. Believe me – it’s going to take me a while to get used to the idea, too.
Over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to take Theater Hopper in a more character-driven and dramatic direction. There will still be jokes – don’t worry about that. Oh, and you can COUNT on there being one more appearance from Cardboard Iron Man when The Avengers comes out in May.
But August 6 is the date I have targeted to put a bow on everything and call it a day. I’m looking forward to the journey that takes us there.
As always, I appreciate the love and support I’ve received from my readers all the years. You guys are phenomenal. My words won’t do your devotion justice. But I hope my art and these last few stories will.
On Monday evening I was feeling a little melancholy about my announcement to end Theater Hopper and decided to record a video to try and capture a moment in time. I had a couple thoughts in mind before I sat down to record it, but it kind of morphed into something a little more sincere. I uploaded it to the Theater Hopper Facebook page and eventually decided to share it here.
I spent all day Monday walking around, feeling like an exposed nerve. I think this video captures that. If nothing else, I hope it communicates how profoundly this decision has affected me and that your support has never EVER been taken for granted.
Feeling a little low on twee? Then polish up your Polaroid cameras, hipsters. The trailer for Wes Anderson’s latest – Moonrise Kingdom – just hit the web.
The movie hits theaters on May 25 and is Anderson’s first live-action film 5 years.
Nearly every frame of this trailer looks like a postcard from some imaginary era. I’m down for it. What’s your reaction? Leave your comments below!
Earlier this week I was exposed to the trailer for the forthcoming romantic comedy Friends With Kids. I haven’t posted it until now because I’ve kind of confused by it.
On the one hand, the movie is stuffed to the gills with actors I love including Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm and Chris O’Dowd. But the trailer positively reeks of plot contrivances and romantic comedy tropes that usually only attract the likes of Katherine Heigl.
In other words, it looks dumb and I think I kind of hate it?
Watch for yourself.
Truthfully, I don’t even think you need to see the movie now. The trailer pretty much gave it all away.
Also, what the hell happened to Jennifer Westfeldt? She was an adorable chipmunk in Kissing Jessica Stein. Now she looks like she’s been wrapped in plastic.
What’s your reaction to the Friends With Kids trailer? Leave your comments below!
What was Tom thinking about? Vote for Theater Hopper at Top Web Comic to view the incentive sketch that explains it all. Or none of it! You’ll have to click to find out!
By the way, great job with the voting, guys. We’re doing well on the charts. Almost 750 so far in January. I think that’s great for only updating once a week! Keep it up!
I apologize for the comic being late this week. I was laid low by a migraine Sunday night that made it kind of impossible to sit upright or, y’know… be exposed to light. I don’t often get migraines. Usually they’re brought on by stress. I would say last week was pretty stressful.
I’m doing better, though. I was having a hard time reconciling the decision to announce Theater Hopper’s conclusion in August. I even made a video about it. I posted it to the blog last week, but I know most of you probably missed it. I wanted to post it again just to kind of get it out of my system. Also because I think it has a message that is worth listening to, even if I did kind of stumble onto it at the end.
Keep in mind that the video was recorded the evening after I made the announcement, so everything is pretty much sitting right on the surface here.
But like I said, I’m doing much better now. Everyone has been amazingly supportive and understanding. I know that announcing the end this far out was absolutely the right decision to make.
I mean, if I was having this kind of difficulty a week ago, announcing the comic ending with no warning would have been much, much more upsetting. I’m positive it would have alienated fans and left a bad taste in my mouth personally – with the potential to ruin the last 10 years of my work. That’s not how I wanted to go out.
But, yeah. Moving forward. Now with another comic under my belt since making the announcement, it’s getting easier. I’m getting used to the idea and I’m excited about what’s coming next.
That said, I knew what this week’s comic was going to be about a week ago. I probably should have had it in the can earlier so I could have posted regardless of whether or not I had a migraine. But I’ve been working without a buffer for this long. It’s kind of hard to change my stripes now.
BY THE WAY… THE STORE
Now that we’re all on the same page with the comic ending in August, I have to undertake the unfortunate business of clearing out the Theater Hopper store. I need your help with this. Nothing is going to bum me out more than looking into a closet full of Theater Hopper merchandise 8 months from now and thinking “Dammit. Now what I am supposed to do with this stuff?”
It’s likely that most of you reading this have already bought a book or shirt for yourself in the past. But don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of these deals now. Buy a shirt for your little brother. Buy a book as a birthday gift for a movie-loving friend. Don’t be afraid that they won’t like it. I sell these things to people at comic book conventions who have never heard of webcomics, let alone Theater Hopper. Without fail, they come back the next day looking for more. You’re friends will love this it – and they’ll really appreciate that you bought them something unique.
In an effort to pick off the low-hanging fruit, I’m going to feature an individual item until I’m sold out of inventory. The first item in my sights is this t-shirt design, “Emerging.”
This was actually a design I created for Threadless a few years ago. It didn’t get picked up, but I liked it enough to produce it myself.
I literally have TWO of these shirts left – one XL and one 2XL. I’m selling them for a paltry $5.00. Two of you are going to pick them up. Bundle them with two more shirts and you’ll get this shirt for free! You can’t beat that.
I’m sorry to have to push the hard sell on you guys. But like I said, I don’t want August to come around and be confronted with a closet-full of unsold Theater Hopper merchandise. It’s too sad to contemplate. Help a buddy out. If you can’t make a purchase, at least use the little Facebook and Twitter buttons on the pages of the items you like and share them with your friends. Who knows – maybe they’ll take a look?
That’s all I have for now. More comics soon. And thanks again for all of your support!
I had a lot of fun drawing the expression Tom made in the fourth panel of today’s comic, so I decided to see if I could push it father in today’s Top Web Comics incentive sketch. I believe this is what’s called in the comedy world as “pulling a face.” Check it out!
Sorry for the delay posting today’s comic. There was a bit of a kerfuffle involving the site’s server host. Apparently there was a potential security compromise and our host was forcing password resets on an incremental basis. I didn’t find out about it until after I tried to upload today’s comic! But things are back to normal now.
Considering Theater Hopper’s slow descent into oblivion this August, I had the idea that I should recognize certain mile makers along the way. That’s why Cecil showed up into today’s comic.
I never really took advantage of Cecil. I basically created him to give Jimmy someone to bounce things off of when Tom or Jared weren’t around. He didn’t say much, he appeared in maybe one or two strips and he will be missed barely – if at all.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, CECIL.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the larger narrative of this story and realized that I really haven’t planned things out very far.
I mean, I have dozens of ideas for strips and I have a general sense of how things are going to go. But I haven’t sat down to actually plot things out.
That’s kind of a concern. Because, in the past – whenever I wrote a longer storyline – I would use this thumbnail approach and things worked out fine. If things went on a little too long, I’d could end the story with very little impunity before moving on to the next thing.
But now that there is A DEADLINE looming on the horizon, I need to be a little more economical about how things unfold.
There are 28 weeks until August 6. That means only 28 more Theater Hopper comics on the present once-a-week schedule before I wrap things up for good. My concern at this point is that I might take more than 28 comics to finish telling the story I want to tell.
That’s good news for you, I hope. I have no problem producing extra comics if it helps me tie things up in a nice little bow. I just need to make sure I time this out right. I’m going to start to have planning in advance, outlining plot points and sticking to them.
Y’see… this is why I announced the comic ending so early. It gives you pleanty of time to iron out pesky little wrinkles like this!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE STORE
Several of you took my words to heart last week when I blogged about getting rid of my Theater Hopper inventory. Many thanks to those of you who placed orders. I’ll be shipping them this week!
I want to keep the store top of mind for everyone, though. I’m sincere about selling this stuff off.
Food for thought: If you buy any two Theater Hopper books, you get the third for free. That’s a savings of $15, folks.
Did I mention it includes the Artist Editions? Get a sketch thrown in, while you’re at it! I’d be happy to draw whatever you like.
Be sure to spread the good word around. I could really use your help!
That’s it for today. Thanks for your patience and I’ll see you next week! Or maybe sooner!
Call me cynical, but the trailer for Lockout looks a lot like a parody of an action movie that would be situated inside some kind of comedy film. How could you NOT think that with delicious dialog like “There’s only one man who can get her out.” “Who?” “Snow.” “He’s the best there is… but he’s a loose cannon.”
Nevermind that is pretty much a straight rip-off of Escape from New York.
Oh, well. I suppose kids today won’t figure that out.
Lockout stars Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, and Guy Pearce. It opens April 20th.
I didn’t go crazy with this week’s Top Web Comics incentive sketch. Just a simple profile shot of Charlie, since she seems to be on Jimmy’s mind. If you vote for Theater Hopper at Top Web Comics, you’ll get to see the whole thing! Check it out!
My apologies for the lateness of this week’s comic. I knew when I was putting it together that I wanted it to be double-sized to take advantage of the pacing. I just didn’t estimate how long that would actually take.
For your reference, I’ve included a couple of links to some of the issues this comic brought up. Yes, Jimmy was a former womanizer. He also once had a relationship with Charlie and they almost got married! It might be easier if you check out that story line from the beginning if you haven’t read it before. It’s one of the arcs that I’m probably most proud of. Kind of funny that it’s pretty much the 3 year anniversary of that story and how it’s finally coming full-circle.
I mentioned last week that since this is the last hurrah, it was my ambition to tie up some of the loose ends with several of the characters. Jimmy – witnessing Tom’s potential evolution into a family man – is deciding maybe it’s time to stop torturing himself and pick up with Charlie where they left off. We’ll get to see that play out before it’s all over.
That’s all I’ve got for right now. I just want to remind everyone to check out the Theater Hopper store and help me unload some of my inventory. I’ve got a pretty aggressive sale going on right now. Buy any two books, get the third one free. Buy any two shirts, you’ll also get the third one free.
There have been several people to take me up on the offer so far – including people who have ordered the Artist Edition’s of the books. If you’d like me to personalize your book with a sketch, it’s a great opportunity to get something unique. By the time August rolls around, I don’t know if I’ll be doing sketches in books anymore. Get yours now!
Thanks again for your support and your patience. I’ll see you soon!