I didn't post a new comic last week and I feel bad about that. But I'm also actually kind of glad I didn't.
Something interesting happened this week and I don't know if you saw it, but it was certainly relevant to the situation I find myself in, as we head into the home stretch toward Theater Hopper's conclusion.
I'm not certain how much of our audience overlaps, but this week Tim Buckley decided to reboot his long-running gaming comic Ctrl+Alt+Del.
Tim and I started roughly the same time. We socialized a little at the beginning, but it wasn't long after that his comic took off.
Tim's kind of an odd cat in webcomics. He has an enormous following, but he's a bit of a pariah among creators. I've never had a personal problem with the guy, but I've heard the stories about him and they're kind of hard to ignore. So on Tuesday when Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellet, Brad Guigar and Kris Straub reassembled to produce a new episode of Webcomics Weekly to discuss Tim's decision, the armchair analysis and schadenfreude were in full bloom.
I can't quite articulate what it was about their recording that hit home for me, but a lot of what they expressed was immediately recognizable to me. There was a lot of talk about being burnt out, about maturing, about moving beyond the gag-a-day format and shedding the pursuit of persistent updates to generate revenue from advertising networks that don't really pay out anymore.
I was listening and nodding my head the entire time.
I don't know what's going on right now, but I'm detecting this weird sea change in regards to web comics. Maybe I'm sensitive to it because I'm in the middle of it, but I'm hearing a lot of talk about ditching the traditional models, about moving into new territories.
I kind of consider myself to have caught the tail end of the "First Wave" of webcomics. Most of the big name web comics established themselves between 1998 and 2000 by people that wanted to be cartoonists but couldn't get the time of day from the syndicates. Theater Hopper came along in 2002. So basically, I'm one of those people who looked at webcomics and said "I've never submitted to a syndicate, but I've always enjoyed cartooning and this looks viable."
I don't know. Maybe I'm Second Wave. Maybe it doesn't matter. All I know is that 10 years in the game is a long time and it was comforting to know that other creators have struggled with the same issues, have the same thoughts and are afraid about throwing away the brand they've built up over the course of the "career."
Now Tim didn't exactly throw his comic away. His stripped it down. He got rid of what he thought wasn't working and says he's going to go back to more gag-a-day style comics about gaming. Some people have asked me why I don't do the same thing with Theater Hopper - dump the stuff that I don't think is working or is too time-intensive.
I know that I've expressed it before, but I never wanted to leave Theater Hopper in a "less than" position. In other words, having elevated the comic to a certain level from a time-investment standpoint and being unable to keep pace with it any longer, stripping things away from it for the sake of efficiency doesn't feel fair to me. Fair for the audience, I mean.
For me - as much as it hurts to do it - letting Theater Hopper go is the best thing for it. That's why it was important for me to communicate my goals for the last year of the comic - so that you guys knew what was going on and understood. More than anything else with these last few comics, I want to convey the idea that these characters will "be okay." It's as much for you as it is for me. Because I'll be sorry to leave them behind.
I don't know how successful I've been at communicating what I gleaned from Tim's reboot or the Webcomics Weekly podcast this week. All I know is that it made me feel a little less haunted about the decision I made to end the comic.
Thanks for your understanding. Cheers.
So much of my life has been wrapped up in this place.
It's where our engagement ended.
It's where I treid to redeem myself.
...It's where we found each other again.
You guys! That is SO beautiful.
Is that why he's crying?
He's been like this since he figured out how much further we'd have to drive to get to the new theater.