Chapter Eleven: The Chaos Tactician

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 10:30 AM

Hello, friends and fans.

When I started this story I really wanted to get to this point. I felt like this was going to be the most intriguing part, and the set up to the climax that would come tumbling in. I harnessed some of that excitement while I was working on this cover.

I hate to do it, but I'm going to enter "real talk" mode.

I know, because of your kind comments, awesome words and support, that some of you have been reading what I've posted in these last few stressful weeks. It's no secret that I'm not doing great, that I'm holding myself - and by extension, the comic - together with bubblegum and wishes.

The reality is, come August this comic will be four years old. It hasn't reached the audience I was really hoping to be able to reach at this point, and it's thoroughly discouraging. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thankful for the readership that has gathered around it. I'm also not discounting my artistic growth in digital art from the start to where I am now. It's crazy to look at.

While I was on my break, after I finished hurrying through six pages to get this next chapter ready, I started drawing for fun. I started drawing things I just wanted to draw, just because. I was inspired, so I took more time, tried some things I hadn't tried before, got experimental. And people love it. My following expanded a lot more than I thought, and I had many people coming out of the blue asking me to do commissions, wanting to see more.

When it comes to the comic, though, I don't really get a similar response. I think in ways it's stifling me in terms of development because I don't 'play' or experiment a lot with the art style, for the sake of keeping it consistent. While it made me really good at keeping a schedule for a while, I think my development plateau'd in a big way.

Here's the TL;DR of the above as well as the summary of where I'm getting at: I feel like if I continue on this path, I'm only going to lose two more years of my life and regret it.

So, right now I'm trying to figure out what to do. I know that there's a lot of you that really like this comic and want to see where it goes, and there was a point where that was really important to me, too, but this epiphany has gone to remind me that I only get one shot at this life, and if I ever want to succeed as an artist I have to take the path that's best for me. What's tearing at me is that I don't want to let anyone down.

So I'm pretty lost. I'd love to hear what people think. If we could brainstorm some ideas or something - one idea that I had was I could just totally change the format of the comic. Finish up this chapter, then write the rest of it out, making illustrations of pivotal moments or cool scenes/artifacts, etc. I don't want to just leave it unfinished, but... I also want to grow, or find some sort of drive or success.

Either way - I have ten pages ready, so there's over two months to think about it. I might even just change my mind and get right back to work, damn the consequences, heheh.

Have a good day, and a good weekend everyone. Thank you for being here.

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IsaythisbecauseIloveyou
27th Apr 2018, 12:49 PM

Since you'll probably hear every unhelpful variation of "you're the artist and we'll support you either way" imaginable, I'm instead going to give you a somewhat more blunt and selfish take on this. Please take my advice with a grain of salt.

You know, staying interested and keeping up with a webcomic is also a very big commitment. Obviously not as big as creating one, but we're still investing a lot of our attention and brain-space over a very long period of time. And the longer it goes on, the bigger the letdown when it fizzles out. You've hit critical mass for this a long time ago.

I also think giving up is never the answer. Yes, doing a comic is a big commitment, but just like adopting a pet, you can't just get rid of it when the going gets rough. You're way too deep into it now and getting out of this gracefully is pretty much impossible now. Honestly, you've also got it somewhat "easy" with your six year estimate when you compare it to some other webcomics like DMFA, Slightly Damned or Two Kinds which individually have been running for literal decades now.

In regards of your comic not performing as well as you'd hoped:
First are you sure that you have done everything you can to get as many eyes on it as possible? I don't know how much you're actually doing in regards to marketing, but let me tell you this: As much as people love to think that you can just put your stuff out there and then be miraculously discovered, any writer, actor or what have you can tell you that that's absolutely not how it works.
Even if you're just doing it as a hobby, maybe it would be a good idea to invest in some advertising space. I'd recommend looking into Project Wonderful, since their focus seems to be webcomics (= good target demographic) and you are fully in control in how much you spend.
Secondly, maybe it's also time to reassess your reasons for doing this. Are you really going through all of this just for some ambiguous internet fame? Or would you rather end up with something that you can be proud of, getting to tell your story, or maybe making some people's life a better place, even if just a little? I know you've definitely had an impact on mine...

I also don't see why it should be an 'either-or' when it comes to the "experimental" stuff and doing the comic. I get that there's only so much time, but I can also get that doing only the one thing can really sour your enjoyment of it. To be honest, I've always thought it was totally weird that, ever since it started, this comic was all that you've ever uploaded to FA anymore.

Anyways, at the end of the day, we're not the boss of you and we can't tell you how you should feel. Do what you think is best for you. Again, my aim was to be a bit more blunt, giving you a bit more of a selfish perspective and not just being another yes-man. I really wish you all the best and I *will* still support you no matter what you decide. However, it won't be any less of a heartbreak if this would mean that this will end in a fizzle instead of going out with a bang.

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ISAYTHISBECAUSEILOVEYOU
27th Apr 2018, 12:58 PM

Also totally forgot... Who cares about "consistency"? In such a long running medium, who is even going to notice if the first and last page don't look alike? Besides, it can also be quite refreshing to shake things up every once and a while (like chapter breaks for example). Think of it as giving your house a fresh coat of paint every few years.

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 4:22 PM

I appreciate your candor, "stranger" that has apparently been following me since before the comic started, eheheh..

So because of the length and nature of the post, I'll break my response into categories to make it a little easier to compartmentalize my thoughts.

---My motivations---

I'd honestly be a little hurt, and sad, if someone thought I was only doing this for e-fame. First off, I'm smart enough to know it doesn't work that way, and second, I don't think I would have kept at it this long if fame was my motivation. So why am I doing it? I decided to break it down:

1. I had a fun story to tell.

This is still true, in my opinion, but because of recent developments it's beginning to feel more like a chore that I'm doing rather than something that I'm building, so the effect of storytelling is starting to wear on me.

2. To improve as an artist.

And I have! Holy cow. You have no idea, I barely even used color when I started this thing out, and while I don't think I'm great at it still, I've gotten way farther than I thought I would. That said, there's been a noticeable stagnation, and in some ways a little bit of regression. I can't find a way to move forward with the art at a speed that would allow me to maintain my schedule.

3. To build a following.

I guess you could argue this is fame? I've never really wanted FAME, though, is the deal. What I want is a community, a group of readers that is inspired by the comic and in turn inspires me. I've always hoped I could somehow reach a broad audience that would build, that maybe hopefully someday I could make this a full time job and expand into making other comics or other things. I've never wanted to be rich, I just want to make a living doing something that isn't customer service or tech support. Which brings me to..

4. To get hired.

I've applied for a large number of jobs using this comic as part of my portfolio - jobs as a comic artist, as a character designer, as a storyboard artist, anything I felt was within my reach, but it hasn't worked so far. Looking at it in its state and not understanding what I'm doing wrong is supremely frustrating and discouraging.

5. To prove to myself that I could do it.

I've started other projects before that all petered out before they took off, or only lasted a couple months or so. I've been proud of myself for getting as much as I've gotten done, done, but this motivates me a lot less than it used to. I see it as less of a goal and more as a job - one that takes my time away from friends and family and social gatherings.

So I guess those are the factors as to why I started this whole thing and why it's been going for so long. Please don't misunderstand my reasons for starting out in the first place.

---What I owe---

I know. There's an unwritten rule, you keep your promise. I understand the 'work' of keeping up to date on a series and following it, I understand all of that, but as a reader what does it mean when the creator is suffering? Trust me when I say I don't want to let ANYONE down. I don't want to be a failure. But I feel like one already. I'm watching my life slip away and I fear I won't have anything to show for it aside from a small group of people who appreciated a thing I did once.

To this end I want to know how selfish *I* can be. As the person who has missed out on so much and sacrificed so much just to create this thing, what can I ask of my readers? I'm still happy that anybody wants to read it at all, otherwise the whole endeavor is COMPLETELY pointless, but at the end of the day I still have to go to work and pay bills and find time to sleep. I have to find time to have a life. Each of these pages might not look like it but they take some time - as I got more detailed or more picky, they started taking a lot longer to make than when I started out. I've even worked on this thing while unemployed, watching my bank account drain out and not finding any prospects for employment.

Can I ask that my readers do a little promotion? Can I ask that they share this with people? Talk about it? Make a wiki, make a TV Tropes page, something? If they aren't excited enough about it to make these things, then what am I doing wrong? How can I make it better? How can I make it worthy of these efforts? I don't know. And I haven't learned in 3 3/4 years how, either.

---What I've done---

In terms of promoting it myself.. yeah, I used to. When I've had work, I've used project wonderful, and it did occasionally deliver spikes in traffic, but again... at that point I am waking up in the morning, going to work for 9 hours a day, coming home and putting time in on the comic, and then I'm also trying to promote it. Work, upon work, upon work, then paying for everything, it gets exhausting, it's been expensive. I've driven to cons, my friends weren't willing to help out but I have an amazing family that has donated their time and money to help me on my journey to try and make this thing work, so it's not like I haven't tried. I just feel like this thing isn't good enough, otherwise I would be building more and more readers. So far that hasn't been the case.

So, I don't know. I'd be willing to continue paying for advertising, but is it worth it? Do I have something that people want to see? Is there someone who knows how to market a webcomic that's willing to talk to me about strategies or demographics or how to go about successfully doing that kind of thing? When you're a solo creator, this kind of thing takes not only money, but time and effort, and please believe me when I tell you that I am BURNED OUT and EXHAUSTED already.

---So yeah---

I guess that's it, really. I've spent thousands of hours, thousands of dollars, and lost friends over this thing. I feel like I deserve to feel a little defeated if the return isn't what I hoped for.

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IsaythisbecauseIloveyou
28th Apr 2018, 12:54 AM

It's clear that you've pretty much made up your mind already, so let me give you one last thought:
Don't do something you might regret in the future and don't let *yourself* down with an half-assed job, just to get it over with.

I'd rather you put things on ice rather than slamming the door behind you. Always leave yourself open for more options rather than less.
You already know that feelings change, and if your last break showed you that you're unhappy right now, maybe another perhaps even longer one will let you see things in an even newer light still.
Who's to say that you'll never ever be in a better position and find your motivation and inspiration again?

Also as a reader, rushing it would be far worse than going on an indefinite hiatus, because with the latter, you at least still have some hope that it might come back some day.

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MistakeNPotatoes
29th Apr 2018, 6:04 PM

Oh no, mind is not made up. I'm just a little vulnerable, hurt, confused, etc. and looking for input from people really important to me - in other words, my readers, friends, family. Just looking for some help really :)

As I've indicated before, this thing is really a part of me. It's taken up a non-zero percentage of my time on this planet, so giving it up is definitely not a thing I want to do. I'm pretty much mentally committed to completing this chapter, however I manage to do it.

The thing that hurts me about taking more breaks or even going on a hiatus is that's a really good way to kill your audience, understandably, and my reach is currently already pretty small - but if I keep going at this rate.. I dunno. It's tough, man.

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IsaythisbecauseIloveyou
30th Apr 2018, 2:03 AM

Yeah, I knew that "you made up your mind" was kinda a stupid thing to say as soon as I hit send, but you can't edit comments here so, c'est la vie...

Anyways, people have their ways of getting notifications. Be it RSS, watches on FA or following via Tumblr. They (hopefully) don't check your comic every week manually.
They also usually don't clear them out either, especially when there is a chance it's not completely dead. I've seen full comment sections on comics that have have been dormant for years.
I think you'd be surprised by how many people would turn up again when you'd come back.

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BigBadCreepyBen
4th May 2018, 11:27 AM

Whats wrong with checking manually?

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IsaythisbecauseIloveyou
9th May 2018, 11:00 AM

If you have the time and patience for it, nothing I guess. But you're still putting effort into something which can be automated with pretty much no additional work.

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Guest
27th Apr 2018, 12:53 PM

Another anonymous user that hasn't been following this story but just wants to echo the above...comic fury is a great site but you should definitely try advertising and maybe even putting this comic on another web hosting site as well? I haven't been following you so I don't know if you're against that.

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 4:27 PM

I have tried advertising when I have the money to do it. I was unemployed for almost a year most recently, so.. paying for advertising was not really on my priority list.

Also posting on several mirrors at this point is more effort than I want to put into that end, as I do all other aspects of the comic already. I post here and on FA but that's about it. I used to post on Tumblr but that kinda dried up a while ago...

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MadJak91
27th Apr 2018, 1:01 PM

It is not clear whether he is going to put Jack aside or move with him so Jack is not necessarily out of the game. Irwin also is not standing on Jack's spot after the move. Hm. He COULD be but Jack's blood suggests otherwise.

More importantly, Jack is not white. Black would not make sense, of course. He looks... grey? Hypothetical illegal third side? I mean, he can make Jack into his very special piece. Sure. Hm.

---

Okay, I guess I understand better why you were not so sure about starting other services that could help you out. That is fine then and I can respect that.
Since you asked for opinions, here is mine.
I am fine with whatever you do since that is your choice. If you want to change your format then do so, if you want to continue the comic then continue and if you really really feel you need to walk away then you should not make it harder for you in case it is a pain to continue.
In my case, I will adapt to whatever choice since there is always something to do on my list.

Good luck :>

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 4:37 PM

Heheh... I put in a 'few' details here that could be interpreted in a number of ways, as well as some red herrings. It would make sense to have Irwin on TOP of Jack's previously occupied space, but it would make some imagery (the blood) less clear. So this isn't chess, it's... chess-like.

One might notice that the pattern on Jack's piece, which we can only assume used to be white, matches very closely a certain individual that Jack has had a past with...

---

Jak, you've been one of my biggest supporters throughout. It's always exciting to see your commentary because I know it's going to be thoughtful, and observant. Anything that you say is something I know I can take to heart.

I appreciate it, and as I suspected you would be able to move on just fine if this thing were to peter out. I know that you (and most webcomic readers) have plenty of other things to read, so it's not like this would be a huge loss.

I appreciate the input, and the well wishes. Thank you Jak :)

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Mgnostic
27th Apr 2018, 1:27 PM

First off, well done on the chapter art. It is interesting that the piece representing Jack is kind of an intermediate gray.
Now to the more pressing question of what to do from here. I think it is fair to say that at least those of us who post in the comments want you to take care of yourself. Aside from my own selfish desire to foster the comic you seem like a nice guy and you have a lot of creativity ahead of you.
In my previous career I often used the phrase "white knuckling it" to describe a coworker who was just hanging on. bubble gum is sticky but it gets brittle and will fail in the long run. As much as you seem to hate the idea, it is an option to drop the comic and walk away. The internet has a short attention span and your body of work will still exist if you want to come back to it. It is clear that you have an investment in the comic and in your audience. You wouldn't be stressing over this if you didn't. Four years is a lot of time to devote to a project. If it were a child you would by shopping for a kindergarten by now. I know what it is like to have a big project that started out as a joyful exercise take over and suck up all of you leisure time (try renovating a victorian house on your own). If you are going to try to keep the comic and maintain what at least right now is a high stress job you are going to have to make some room for the rest of your life. I'm betting that you pretty much have the story laid out and at this point the artwork is the task at hand. I'm looking forward to the climax of the story but if yo have to drop back to updating once or twice a month I will still read the comic. As you point out, going with a prose conclusion with illustrations for the highlights is an option. Changing the format/artistic style is also a viable option. There are several comics out there where the author totally changed up their style. Unless you shift over to something totally incomprehensible, we, as your audience, will roll with it. As for letting us, your audience, down; we will get over it. Putting my reality therapy hat on for a moment, it really isn't your job to keep us from feeling let down. That is an unrealistic and ultimately thankless task. Your ultimate job is to survive and thrive. If the comic works for you then we are happy to come along for the ride. Lovecraftian fiction has seen an increase in popularity of late but it is still a bit of a niche audience in most regards. You may want to revisit your expectations in terms of readership. That said, you are doing better than a great many of our competitors at least as indicated by the top webcomics ranking. Bottom line, you may have to revise your expectations of how people will respond to the comic. As a person who does remote control airplanes I can sympathize. Some people are content to fly the same old nondescript foam airplane year after year but I'm not really content unless I have something different on the building table. This brings up my one concrete suggestion. Do each chapter in a different art style. make it a feature of the comic so that you get your growth and you still get to tell the story. This is a long ramble on my part but i hope it helps you thing through the problem.

Regards,
Mgnostic.

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ISAYTHISBECAUSEILOVEYOU
27th Apr 2018, 3:03 PM

I completely agree with you that everybody is responsible for their own happiness and that they should seek it out whenever possible.

What I can't get behind, though, is your claim that when you have an audience, you don't have any responsibilities towards them.
Sure people are going to "get over it", but that doesn't mean that you haven't broken their trust and disappointed them.
When someone starts following your work, there is an inherit trust and expectation that you are going to see it through to the end with them.
I firmly believe, you should show them just as much respect of their time and the support they gave you as they have shown towards you.

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ISAYTHISBECAUSEILOVEYOU
27th Apr 2018, 3:20 PM

Mind you, that is not to say that I think that discontinuing the comic would be inheritly wrong.

I guess it's just up to you how much you value your own happiness over dissapointing some people. And either way, I won't judge you for it.

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 5:06 PM

@MGnostic - Thank you. Despite the negative emotions swirling in my mind lately I was able to pull this thing together. It's not my favorite (chapter 10's cover is still my favorite) but I'm happy with how it turned out all the same.

As for the rest, heh, yeah, white-knuckling would be better to describe something that's moving too fast for you to handle. This is more of a weight that increases, it's either slipping or it's crushing me, not sure which.

I am so invested, moreso in you guys than I am in the comic these days, I just don't want to let anybody down, you know? People like you who have been here since pretty much the beginning, it means a lot to me, and if it weren't for you I probably would have faced this crossroad a long time ago.

I might just try switching to a faster art style, not one where I carve out all the lines so much. That's always an option. I'll have to try it out, see how people feel about it, etc. It could work.

I really appreciate that you're concerned for my well being, I know that probably to some people I am a lukewarm-entertainment dispenser, but I know at least with you you can see behind the veil a bit, heheh. I really appreciate you, your words, and your suggestion. Thank you.

@ISTBILY - I've been disappointed by incomplete endings, myself. I get the feeling, but in my case it's been for things I've paid for, sometimes from giant companies whose sole purpose is to make money off the things I'm buying, etc. only to have it come to nothing. So trust me, I've been there.

I understand this 'trust' that something will be completed, but when you look at the equation, the audience gives you attention, and in turn you give them your time, your work, your money, your attention, your respect.. over time I feel like there's a deficit if things don't balance out.

Ultimately, do the readers care about the person making the comic?

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Mnostic
27th Apr 2018, 10:06 PM

Hi "I Say This". I, along with a lot of people, would be disappointed if or when the comic comes to an end. I get your point about an accepted trust. The point I was trying to make make, albeit poorly, is that our potential stress over losing the comic does not equate with wrecking his health to produce it. There can be a lot of satisfaction in fulfilling an obligation, even if it exists only in your heart.

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MistakeNPotatoes
28th Apr 2018, 12:22 AM

I don't think anyone means harm. I get the perspective and I'm glad to have a devil's advocate. I dunno. I'm just really sad, stressed, and confused, so having all this discussion is good for me - it's helping me get my thoughts together.

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thing 1
27th Apr 2018, 10:24 PM

pardon me for asking this but, is that supposed to be "Tactician"? you have "tactican"

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MistakeNPotatoes
27th Apr 2018, 11:54 PM

So I did! Fixed :D

Thank you!!

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Mgnostic
27th Apr 2018, 10:29 PM

It sounds as though ISAYTHISBECAUSEILOVEYOU may play this role to some degree but do you have a comics business mentor? I basically know squat about the comics business. Where I am coming from is the experience of going to college for seven years and coming out with a pretty good education and yet finding out that there were important aspects of my chosen field that I didn't know much about. Twenty eight years later I was still learning from mentors and experienced co-workers. Having a talent, and you definitely do, doesn't automatically make you a good manager. It is however a skill that can be acquired and cultivated and having someone who has walked that path before you is a great resource.

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MistakeNPotatoes
28th Apr 2018, 12:20 AM

I really don't. I grew up without artistic influences and I have never found anyone from the industry that will give me the time of day. I pray to Mignola from afar and just try my best, basically, heh. I'm actually thinking about going to college for comics.. we'll see how that turns out.

Thank you, it's a really good suggestion.

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That Guy Over There
28th Apr 2018, 12:56 AM

Poor Nyarlathotep, he doesn't realize that he's already made a critical error. Chaos isn't a chessboard. Chess is a game of rules, of order, of pieces with predetermined rules and roles that never change all throughout the game. Chaos is the anathema of chess. Chaos is what happens when one player gets sick of all the rules and throws the board aside, and punches his opponent in the face. But then again, that may be what Nyar is doing here: He's throwing aside the rules and changing a piece over to his side...

In regards to your issues with readership, well... I can't say I'm 100% fond of comicfury: Every comic they have takes forever to load, making going through their archives a massive chore. If your comic wasn't so good, I wouldn't have gone through what I did to catch up on it. But, I'm not familiar with other comic hosting services, so I can't offer other alternatives, except maybe Keenspot, Hiveworks, the like. Or go independent and set up your own independent site. Your comic is a gem, and it should definitely have a greater readership than it gets, and a long load time on pages hurts more than a little. Seriously, these days 2 to 5 minutes to load a single page, even on a high end laptop like mine, is just wrong.

Ummm, what else... have you considered a TVTropes page? You might be surprised at the readers it can draw in. I'd offer to make one, but my life currently doesn't offer that kind of time. Or maybe a deviantart page if you don't already have one. I've known a few comics that posted pages both on their comic space and on deviantart, and it helped their readership.

Long story short, though, if you want your readership to increase, all you really need is more exposure and either a better hosting service, or just to spread your wings and take off from this site. Comic Fury might have been useful once, but these days, it's an albatross around your neck.

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MistakeNPotatoes
29th Apr 2018, 10:04 PM

Hahah, maybe the idea is that Nyarlathotep is fooling others into thinking that it's Chess, when in the end it's his own twisted game.. :)

Also, WOAH, I didn't realize your load times were so bad! I'm so sorry :(

The good news is that I've actually been looking into getting a site redesign (this started before my recent 'epiphany') which would allow me to move it to other hosts as well. I think it might be a good move in the long run, also I want a much better looking page as I move forward here.

I have considered TVTropes - I don't want to be the person who sets it up though because that feels REALLY lame, but nobody else has been interested enough to take up the task either, though, so, I guess it's not getting done, eheheh. Any time I spend going through the comic and finding all these little tropes to match up.. it's gonna take way too much time away from the comic itself. I have a hard enough time doing one page a week with this job, much less two.

I would like more exposure, but I have been short in the money department.. I'm always hopeful that my readers will maybe spread the word ;)

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Garanhir
28th Apr 2018, 9:55 AM

If you do decide to give up, could you please post some sort of plot summation so we know how the story ends? Too many strips I've followed in the past have just done a "Woody's Roundup" & stopped dead in mid-action without resolution.

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MistakeNPotatoes
29th Apr 2018, 10:05 PM

I'm kinda leaning away from giving up now, but yeah - there's no way I would just leave it hanging. It would get finished somehow, I'm just trying to figure out how much of myself I want to give up in order to do it.

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Taily
28th Apr 2018, 2:46 PM

Follow your heart, Seth. If you're dissatisfied with the path you're on, change paths. You don't owe anyone anything; you don't have to justify yourself to anyone. Your true friends and family will love and support you no matter what your choice is.

Like you said, you've only got one shot at this precious life. You've had this epiphany, and I personally think it will be very good for you if you listen to it, take it seriously, and act upon it. If you let yourself be held back by the fear of letting people down, it could potentially lead to a lot of negativity, wasted time, and stagnation. It wouldn't be selfish to radically change your comic, or to quit it completely. It would be self-care.

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The "I" in Internet stands for Impermanent

Holodrum
29th Apr 2018, 7:06 PM

We've lived a long time in this World Wide Web of Al Gore's creation. ;P
It's hard to remember just how young a thing it is. Some people have expectations, and the imagination that things online are there forever, but this is ultimately short-sighted. Everything changes, everything grows, and eventually everything dies.
I have loved seeing your work grow as time went on, how your style has changed and updated over the years. Your characters are well thought out, especially for how many of them you have. And you've managed all of this on your own with no-one to really back you up or help with the creative burden. Family is amazing and I'm glad they're supportive, but it's still a lot of effort without help from an industry. And I know you're proud of what you've built.
But I also agree with Taily on every point. I know how it feels when you get burned out, and I don't have any useful advice for how to carry on when all hope seems lost. This is not yet your day job, and your real life must take priority. There are many ways you could continue the comic, and have it take less of your life, and I for one would still be here reading it whichever path you take. But if you do feel the need to end it, I will thank you vociferously for the memories and enjoyment I had reading about your world and characters.

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MistakeNPotatoes
29th Apr 2018, 10:06 PM

This is very wise... at this point I just need to weigh the burden of continuing versus quitting. Both are extremely difficult decisions, and either one is likely going to lead to pain. Ugh :D

Also - @Holo, your post made me really sad, haha! I'm seeing all these names that make me emotional.

I really want to be one of those comics that makes it. I want it to be this big ambitious thing I see through to the end, I really do, I guess I just want some help, too. Spread the word, make a thing, written or artistic, whatever! I just don't like feeling like I'm screaming into the void when I'm also not getting any motion from this thing in real life :')

You guys are the best, really. I love you.

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Holodrum
30th Apr 2018, 4:44 PM

Oh dear, MP. *Send electronic hugs* Didn't mean to make you really sad. I'm exceedingly happy with the comic as a whole. You have a lot to be proud of already.

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 6:03 PM

*hugs* I appreciate it.. something like this would be very difficult to walk away from. Thanks.

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Oni-neko
28th Apr 2018, 4:57 PM

I'm with the people saying to make what changes you feel you need to including ending things.

Though if you did decided to end it, I too would appreciate a write up of the ending you had in mind just for the sake of closure on the reader end.

I'm also fine with you taking another log hiatus that may turn into a permanent one. also I'd be ok with radical change in the art style or the update schedule. i know more than one webcomics artists who has had to change how often they update.

I've got more than one comic I follow that updates roughly once or twice a month so if you went that route you'd be some pretty good company.

you said you have enough pages for a couple of months so you don;t have to make the decision right away. take your time and let us know where things are going when you do know the answer.

That's really all i'm going to ask of you; is that whatever changes you decide on, that you let us know.

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 7:03 AM

Thank you so much, Oni-Neko, it feels good to see all these names of people who have been so kind in the past.

Yeah.. I think I'm gonna cruise into this chapter a bit and see if anything changes about the way that I feel. Sorry for the panic, I've just been getting frustrated and hurt due to factors in and out of my control. I shouldn't take it out on you guys.

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Mr. Casual
29th Apr 2018, 1:48 AM

You wouldn't be the first artist to go the "write-ups with occasional illustration" route.

I'm not going to say you should quit, but I will say you should do whatever makes it easier to get your story told the way you want to tell it.

In the meantime, I'm still plenty invested in this, and happy to see where it goes. :)

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 7:04 AM

Thanks, Casual, good to see you :)

I'll be sure to keep you and everyone else informed on what I plan on doing. The plan for now is to keep going with this chapter, I at the very least want to close this one out since it's already almost a third of the way completed, art-wise, haha

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Ahakarin
29th Apr 2018, 9:57 AM

I wholly understand the feeling - your pour your heart and soul into something you love and care about, put it up on the world stage hoping for some validation for all your efforts, and the response…?

A resounding “meh”.

Ultimately, you can’t judge the worth of your work by the scope of the following - there is just too much out there. The supply of personal investment is so outstripped by the demand that it’s ridiculous. How many webcomics are out there? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? …

I find myself often in the same boat with my own art - I know my art is good, so… why doesn’t anyone seem care? Rather, why don’t -more- seem to care? It’s all about exposure, and, sadly, dumb luck. How do you get your art before enough people who’ll spread it around like the touchiest, feeliest of plague victims? This is why I could never make it doing this sort of thing as a “business” - art is only part of it. You have to be just as invested in the marketing.

I understand the level of discouragement you’re feeling. Unfortunately, making peace with the fact that, no, you’ll never been the Lovecraft Penny Arcade isn’t something to which an instruction manual can be written. If you like what you do, if you like to write and combine it with art, if the process and the results, and if having a small but dedicated fanbase is enough… then by all means, keep going. But… if those alone can no longer justify the effort and time and investment, if you -need- the validation of having thousands of fans then…



Well, I for one would be sad to see this comic go. I’ve already mentioned in earlier comments that this wouldn’t be the first lovecraft themed webcomic I’ve seen sink into the oblivion of internet history. But at the same time, I fully realize that when an author’s heart and soul isn’t in it, it dies. One way or another. If you just can’t do it anymore… then you can’t.

It would be a sad ending, but… this is Lovecraft we’re talking about

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 7:41 AM

Aw jeez, this makes me sound like a jerk. I really hope I'm not coming across as one, I'm not trying to :/

I never EXPECTED to be crazy popular or anything, it's just that recently I haven't been feeling my art improve, and I feel like I'm plateau'd both in artistic improvement and audience reach, so now it's just sort of a neutral experience. I feel like something should be moving forward aside from the plot, I guess? I don't know. That's just what I want to get out of it aside from completing the comic, and with enough outside factors weighing down on me it's making it difficult to find the motivation or the drive, you know?

Either way, I appreciate what you have to say. Thank you, it's all important to take in :)

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Bob Mozark
29th Apr 2018, 1:20 PM

On your perception that a dichotomy is growing between your story and your art, try to remember that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds". People tend to forget that the words "a foolish" are part of the quote.

Let your artistry grow whatever way it wants. If you lose a few fans, remember what the creators of Mystery Science Three Thousand said when asked if they weren't afraid that many of their quips went over the heads of their audience. To paraphrase what they said, "The people we are writing for will get them."

Let your artistry grow as it will.

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 6:04 PM

Very wise words. Good point, too. Thanks Bob :)

After hearing from all of you, talking to some important people, and doing some deep, complicated thinking I think I know what I want to do now. Stay tuned for Wednesday's update.

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Silyon
30th Apr 2018, 1:28 PM

I've always been of the possibly unpopular opinion that the artist owes their veiwers absolutly nothing. It is our privlege to see whatever art you choose to put before us, rather than have it linger unseen in some file on your computer, or hidden away in an old sketchbook.

Finding where you put it out can be another matter entirely, but from the sounds of what I've quietly read, you're familiar with methods of advertising yourself. Lovecraftian stuff, far as I've ever seen, has a dedicated but small following, there's just not alot of people that search for that subject matter (Or not know how to spell half the names, lol). If it's a topic with a small community, then no matter how good the quality of the comic is it's just not going to turn up in random people's searches.

On a personal and selfish level, I'd prefer if the current story arc got wrapped up before you moved on to more interesting ventures, just because it seriously sucks when a story gets abandononed part way through on a cliffhanger. But, even if you did do a full-stop right now, I wouldn't fault you for it. If the comic is litterally destroying you life, like you imply, then obviously it has to go. And you wouldn't be the first one to abandon a comic part way through it's story for whatever reason, I can think of 12 others off the top of my head that did just that without half as much warning or communication as you've graced us with. Thank you for that, by the way.

Ultimately, only you know what's best for you. You owe us nothing, and maintaining a story you've fallen out of love with is incredibly self-destructive, especially for your creativity. If you've really lost the spark for this story or these characters, it may be a mercy to cut it short and avoid letting it drag on into disjointed incongruencies.

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MistakeNPotatoes
30th Apr 2018, 6:10 PM

I don't think that it's an unpopular opinion, maybe simply not universal. It would seem not, huh? Heheh.

I might be familiar with methods of advertising but I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong, haha! I'm having a bit of a think about my approach. I appreciate your input there - I know Lovecraft isn't a popular subject matter, but I am trying to sort of rise above the niche a bit, reach a little beyond the bounds.

I want to see this story arc finished as well, and honestly that's the whole story. The idea that I might do more comics in the same universe doesn't mean that I'm planning on just drawing out one long unending story into infinity, I just want to take some ingredients and tell some shorter stories after this, I think.

You're welcome, I suppose, for what I've shared; but really, thank you. I am foolishly surprised by how compassionate, thoughtful, and supportive you guys are.

I'll see you on wednesday :)

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Not just for Lovecraft Fans

silentcity
1st May 2018, 9:05 PM

I think this comic stands on its own and that you don't think you have to be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy this. Putting my marketing thinking cap on. In the meantime, excited for Wednesday after seeing this cover!

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Someguyfromsweden
1st May 2018, 12:39 PM

I....I almost dont know what to tell you. I just hope that you find the way that is best for you.

Ofcorse i want the comic to continue but i cant with good conscience ask you to do something that makes you feel bad.

I found your comic on the topwebcomic sight. Most of the comics with high scores there ALWAYS mention and give a link in the comment on evry comic page to their vote page.
I know you have a link here on your sight but of you will continue think about it

The night is dark and full of terrors. Tho i hope you find some light to show your way.

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MistakeNPotatoes
4th May 2018, 7:18 AM

I could always advertise on top webcomics again. I wasn't so certain of the effectiveness of that site, but if you found it because of TWC then that's a good sign :)

Thanks for your input and well wishing, we're gonna see how this all goes.

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...(RockB)
2nd May 2018, 9:42 PM

Nononono, if Thiggwin is black, and Jaunt and the fishmen are white, then Jack must be a white figure! What's going on?

Otherwise, I have to think about all this, also the next page.

Just one quick & obvious idea for more exposure: Voting it up on TWC, but I think it's already amongst the top 100.

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MistakeNPotatoes
4th May 2018, 7:20 AM

Something weird must be happening, hmmmm...

Hehe, thank you for the idea :) I haven't been on the top 100 for a while. I used to push it a lot more but I just can't compete with the bot-users that clutch onto those top spots.

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joeyballast
2nd May 2018, 10:11 PM

I dunno what to tell you, man, except that once again I can commiserate with the really shitty feeling of thinking that your art's plateau'd. Really, really shitty feeling.

Once again, wrote several paragraphs, deleted them.

Do what you think is best for you. If someday you think to yourself "oh my god I've made a terrible mistake, I NEVER should have stopped my webcomic" then, well, you can pick it back up again.

As for the comment lower down about applying to jobs and not getting anything back I just listened to a podcast on "my art is great, why won't anyone hire me?"

link

I've paid for some of these guys' classes and some of what they have to say in the podcast is really great advice which I'll be trying to follow.

Hope that shitty feeling goes away soon. In my case it always seems to pass after a few pages of comic.

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Thracecius
7th May 2018, 6:57 PM

Well, I'm late to the party and all the wise words have been used up (I'm looking at you, Mgnostic!), so since you're feeling blue I'll be the comic relief!

*queues up "Be Good To Yourself" by Journey*

"Runnin' out of self-control,
Gettin' close to an overload,
Up against a no win situation,
Shoulder to shoulder, push and shove
I'm hangin' up my boxin' gloves,
I'm ready for a long vacation.

Be good to yourself when, nobody else will
Oh be good to yourself,
You're walkin' a high-wire,
caught in a crossfire,
Oh be good to yourself.

When you can't give no more,
They want it all but you gotta say no,
I'm turnin' off the noise that makes me crazy,
Lookin' back with no regrets,
To forgive is to forget,
I want a little piece of mind to turn to,

Be good to yourself when, nobody else will
Oh be good to yourself,
You're walkin' a high-wire,
caught in a crossfire,
Oh be good to yourself."

Okay, so my singing voice would make your ears bleed on that one, but at least you'd be focused on screaming for me to shut up instead or worrying about anything else. :D

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Thracecius
7th May 2018, 6:57 PM

On a more serious note, if it's any consolation, I discovered a comic called "Thunderstuck" by Grayson Towler long after it had lain dormant for some months (years?), but he later posted that he still wanted to tell the story and just didn't have the time to devote to it, so he would post once a month. His story is quite different and very involved, rather like yours (though it's an original modern day setting with mythological elements, not Lovecraft), so every month I am back to read the next page, and every month it's there and just as good as the previous. His art might not be as professional as yours, and he may not be doing art as his career, but I appreciate that he has a schedule that works for him and he sticks with it, because I enjoy his story.

Another comic that I follow is far more irregular in updates because it's a father & son project and both are extremely busy with jobs and family life. "3 Minute Max", by Bob and Max Forward (yes, Bob forward is the son of notable physicist and hard sci-fi author Robert L. Forward), is a heavy action, mixed sci-fi and supernatural story with incredible art & writing so it is worth it to me to check in once every couple of months to see when they anticipate sharing the next page. Plus, Bob is hilarious and I love reading his blog entries, so I can certainly be patient. :)

The point I'm trying to make is that, yes, you can probably expand your audience with a dedicated effort, but ultimately you need to "be good to yourself" and find a rhythm that allows you to live your life how you want to live it. Yes, your readers are an integral part of your experience and motivation, that's true for most authors and artists, but have a little faith that your devotion to your work and your readers will be as rewarding as you need it to be if you just keep it in perspective. Ultimately the act of creation and sharing is not about statistics, it's about connecting with others, and the majority of the human race never gets to experience what you do on a regular basis because they lack the skill, talent, time, courage or even interest to tell stories and share them. You are among the very few who add to the tapestry of human history in a format that can persist into the future, and that's no small thing.

So enjoy your comic, appreciate what it represents to you and to your readers, and understand that life is what you make of it, through the suffering and the triumphs, and know that you always have an audience of at least one - you, and that's what really matters at the end of the day. :)

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Another Resource

Thracecius
8th May 2018, 12:33 PM

I just thought of another resource you might want to look into for ideas on how to promote your comic:

https://webcomics.com/articles/social-media/what-if-i-told-you-the-algorithm-is-your-friend/

Brad Guigar, the creator of the comics Greystone Inn, Evil, Inc and the Eisner nominated comic Phables, has been cartooning for decades and he has a lot of good advice on how to market and monetize your comics. I've been reading and enjoying Evil, Inc for a number of years now, have read Greystone Inn (also good), and I loved Phables, so I believe that he has a pretty good idea what he's talking about, even though I don't subscribe to webcomics.com. He also collaborates with David Kellett (Sheldon & Drive - two favorites of mine), Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis, Chainsawsuit) and the well known Scott Kurtz (PvP, Table Titans), all of whom have been in the web comics industry for at least a couple of decades and who have successfully moved from doing comics as a hobby to making it their "day job". You can also look up Howard Tayler (Schlock Mercenary - one of my long time favorites) for another story of a comic creator who went from hobbyist to full time cartoonist, Pascalle Lepas (Zap! and Wilde Life) and AmeliaP (Kings Club - she's a professional comic creator and an awesome artist to interact with as a reader & she's on ComicFury) for other ideas. I can name more, so feel free to ask if you want more suggestions. :)

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