Thanks to a generous Patreon contribution, we are now at over $100 a month. That means that our first goal has been met, and therefore, all ads have been removed! I’m kind of glad, because though I met some cool people through their ads, I’m not a big fan of advertisement. That said, I am a big fan of spreading the word about other comic, and I don’t want to stop, so if you have one, let me know.
For those of you who read my last, long post, thank you. I am also not a fan of TL;DR, but I do know that was a long slog. I will make this one briefer.
1) We are definitely doing at least one issue of Dysphoria. The response justifies that. Thank you to the folks who signed up for the mailing list, and to the folks who pledged to the Patreon. Please spread the word.
2) At risk of sounding like OPB, we need to raise more, and the more we raise, the more we can do. I do not have cool mugs like OPB, but I am, however, in possession of some extra pages that Dex and I have banked. I think I am going to make a series of smaller, closer, related goals for the Patreon that involve increasing the number of pages per week at a certain level. If there is a thing stopping you from contributing to the Patreon (aside from being broke, which is of course fine, I know the feeling), please let me know what you’d like to see.
3) As I will be informing the Patreon folk very shortly, depending on your time contributing, trades for Year Five will be coming for free. That’s not something I’m writing into the Patreon at present, but I am considering it for future work. It’s just something I’m deciding to do outside of the commitment Patreon offers. As such, if you were to know that trades would come with a Patreon contribution, would that motivate you to join?
Bottom line, I am looking for the best way to motivate you to contribute so that you can be pleased and I can continue this comic, and start the next one. I’m being as transparent and available as I can, but I need to know what folks want so I can cater to that, so please, raise your voice!
Ways you can help:
Join the mailing list (just below the comic, or above this post, is the form).
Tell a friend.
SO! As many of you have noted, repeatedly (and thank you), there has been an issue where pages here will not upload until later in the day or until I manually refresh the cache.
[boring explanation you can likely skip to get to the important stuff begins:]
It took a long while to figure out, but I have now systematically gone through the entire set of plugins, reinstalled a fresh wordpress, deleted an offensive stat program that was causing unfortunate redirects, and I could probably really be saying recharging the dilithium right now, for all the greek it may mean to the average reader. Long story short, I took my small mind, did some big rejiggering, and now the pages should be up at 12:01, if that’s your thing.
There was also an extensive series of redirects slowing the site which are now gone, which means a speedier experience.
[boring stuff ends, important stuff begins]
Cura Te Ipsum is ending. YE GADS. We have 847 pages in total, and we’re now at 802, which means 45 pages remain. 39 for the folks on Patreon (feel free to check in and read ahead, if you can support us!). As for me? Well, I’m down to 24 pages before the end is in my hand, and that is scary and wonderful at the same time.
Well, that’s the question, right? If you’re with the Patreon, you already know that Dex and I are actively at work on a new comic, The Dysphoria. A few things must come together, and in a difficult fashion, as we end this comic adventure and begin another.
One, I have no idea how many people will drop off the face of the Earth after Cura ends, or how many people have dropped off the face of the Earth already. Stats are pretty hard to read on this site, though it seems that readership has stayed consistent from the massive boom back in 2012 with i09. My understanding is that comics that don’t lose huge amounts of readership over time are rare, so I call that a win, but there hasn’t been an increase in readership, so ?????, five question marks, ahoy.
The reason I bring this up is sustainability. I am giving hard thought to what to do next, if I should make Dysphoria another comic like this one, if I should work with Dex in private and try to sell it to a company (IE let them take the risk, but lose some small portion of my soul to letting what I do be owned by someone else), or some third option, like making it only available to Patreon people (I can already hear some booing, some saying “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS YEARS AGO?”). Again, FIVE QUESTION MARKS. ?????
That’s the problem with webcomics. There’s no right answer, and there’s no magic bullet. It’s the same with making novels, and I imagine most creative endeavors.
Factor 1: I am going to do a final Kickstarter for Year Five soon. That’s a big ask. It is always a big ask, and it’s a big ask with diminishing returns, and I understand why. That said, for the work continue, the asking must, as well. On and on and on.
Factor 2: The Dysphoria will be nearly twice as expensive as Cura because it’s in color, and has to be. That means halving the speed with which the pages come out, or doubling the page rate, AT MINIMUM. This is a huge problem in terms of sustainability. I am seeking solutions. The ones I have are inadequate. They include:
1) I ran the numbers for making The Dysphoria a Patreon-only affair, giving away the first issue so you can see if you like it and then you get the issues as they come out, for X a month, and I need to get some 400 people to buy regular issues to justify continued publication. At present, we are at 22 patrons (and bless their big hearts, they rock). I am a man of letters, not numbers, but that one’s pretty plain as unworkable for The Dysphoria.
2) I ran the numbers for doing a Kickstarter for the first year of Dysphoria and giving it to everyone digitally if the Kickstarter succeeds. It’s a tall order, but I believe it is doable. The problem is, that means I’d be doing a Kickstarter right after the Year Five Kickstarter, or I’d be banking up a year of a comic, not releasing it to the public, and then assuming that everyone will still be here a year after Cura ends. Not an incredibly reasonable assumption. Boo.
3) Stopping making comics until I can get a gig with a publisher or come into some cash somehow.
4) Continuing as before, but much, much slower. A page a week and a trade every two years (MAYBE) slow. Boo times two.
X-factors: The new comic is color. The new comic will come out in issues. The new comic is a completely different genre.
The goals of writing and creating are different compared to everyone you talk to. Generally speaking, most people want one of three things. Acclaim of some sort, financial compensation, or the joy of a thing well done. To the chagrin of both my agent and many of the more successful writers around me, I’ve always been about the joy of a thing well done.
The joy of a thing well done does not pay the mortgage.
My comic is not expensive compared to many others. My comic is incredibly expensive compared to comics where the artist isn’t paid. I’m sure by now you see the essential complexity involved.
I am not averse to shouldering much of the burden for making this comic, as I have proven now for six years. I’ve put enough into this comic to buy two brand new cars, a college education, or to make myself debt free with something like twenty thousand dollars in the bank. Instead I remain in debt. I have a loan on a car. I mail my own books. I write uncompensated.
But guess what? I have a fuckin’ COMIC BOOK. No regrets.
Can I do it twice? I don’t know. Right now, I honestly don’t know. My present inclination is to make one issue of Dysphoria, see if I can get it with a company or find some way to fund it through you guys some of the way, and if not, quietly move back to prose with gratitude and thanks for the many years of support. It’s not great, but it is a plan.
HOW CAN WE CHANGE THAT?
Well, there are several ways.
ONE, we can have a modest influx of Patreon folks. If we can get the Patreon up to $200 a month, that’ll alleviate a lot. Or if, say, when we do that first issue of Dysphoria and make it exclusive to the Patreon, and we hit $200-$300 a month, a lot will become clear and simpler and more doable.
TWO, we can sell a lot more books. You’ll notice I haven’t updated the store in some time, mostly because outside of the Kickstarter, we sell maybe five books a year. That may be on me for not putting up Year Four, I don’t know, but it’s a thing. If we sold, say, a hundred books a year outside of the Kickstarter (without me having to spend 200 books worth of cash to get con tables), we’d have less of a problem.
THREE, we can have a blowout last Kickstarter. Like, double our goal blowout.
FOUR, I can put the first year of Dysphoria into the final Kickstarter, making a hybrid, confusing, fund-raising monster. I don’t like this. Especially given that the final Kickstarter is going to involve a larger book and an escalated release schedule so it’s in your hands on the day the last page drops (he said optimistically).
FIVE, YOUR IDEA HERE.
We have time to figure this out. Six months, to be precise. The Kick will come in about three, maybe two. I am trying to be as honest as I can with all of you, and please don’t take any of this as a slight on the support you have all given. Consider this more a pragmatic attempt at solutions more than a “SHAME! SHAME, I SAY!” If you haven’t given dollar one, you’re fine by me, because I knew going in that that would never be a requirement. Plus, as a guy who’s been broke as a joke many, many times, I couldn’t. I’d rather someone take my work for free and enjoy it than guilt someone who can’t for not contributing.
That said, for someone to take the work for free, the work has to exist, and I want to find a way.
Please help me.
I am, as a form of experiment, starting a mailing list. This is a feeler to see if folks are willing to follow the comic, or if when Cura ends, their interest ends. If you would like to see what we’re doing next, please sign up for the mailing list that I have placed below the comic. The main purpose of this (aside from less bothering people over Kickstarter with a “Hey, we’re doing it again!” email to help raise awareness) is to see if people will wait for what we’re going to do next, and give it a shot when it’s time. IE, if we HAVE to delay the Dysphoria because of funds, will you still be here in a year if I say “It’s done, come enjoy it!” or will the peril of the here today, gone tomorrow, content-is-king internet crush us like a bug? If I get a hundred people on a mailing list, well, you can call that idea SIX.
Just posted on Twitter, but also thought I’d mention here that our Patreon backers, in addition to pages now a month ahead, just got a cool special look at an image from a page of the next comic Dex and I will be doing.
We’re also actively talking about how we’re going to do the comic, and would love insight. Even a buck a month gets you in on the discussion, and there are tons of reasons to check out the Patreon, including some forty exclusive sketches from Dex, along with benefits that will come in the future to those who actively support now.
As it stands, the next comic will more than likely be on Patreon almost exclusively, so those who get in now have a head start, an early-bird bonus if you will. I’m going to start planning rewards based on this support, make no mistake. This will include early looks at the work in question.
Beyond that, please consider, if you enjoy this comic, that it is not a profitable endeavor, not by a long shot. It is a labor of love, and any contribution you can make helps offset the some 35-40 thousand dollars Cura is in the red, and helps motivate me to carry on making on the darkest days, when all the sacrifices mount up and sit on your shoulders. I’m not making a grab for money when I hold out my hand, I promise. If this were about money, I’d have quit long ago. That said, it is a factor in continuing and making the next comic, as it will have color, and be more ambitious. Any help you could offer means a lot and helps ensure my future ability to create works like this.
I am in the process of updating the tags and SEO of Cura in general, prepping the comic for (gasp!) archive mode, when it finishes its run in a number of months.
Ergo if you go back and read the comic, the first 100 or so pages (as of this writing) have modified tags, some of which do not match up with the last 600 or so pages. It is slow work, but I am managing. It’ll probably take a week of poking in between other work.
There are three organizing schemes. TAGS, LOCATION, and CHARACTERS. I considered location and character, or just tags, but I decided versatility of use was better, depending on how one wanted to look back.
There is also a preliminary SEQUELS page I am at work on, where you can see all the versions of the pages with sequels arranged in order. I will post that link when it’s finished. It’ll probably be on the LINK page, which I have also cleaned up. I want to do ECHOES, too, but that is more difficult, because I’d have to comb and mine my own work without a handy repeating title to bring me back to it. I may do that later, or I may not be able to, but if any of you fine folks want to help, I’m game. Examples would include repeating dialogue tropes, like “No.”, “It’s complicated/not complicated.” along with repeated scenes, like Charlie suicides, the last week before he/she dies, etcetera. You can see how that would get tough fast, I’d guess, and I see it as time better spent on The Dysphoria, though my nagging need to catalogue makes me want to do it all the same.
In other news, the Patreon is now a MONTH ahead, and may go further, so if you’d like to read ahead, go on and check it out!
I rarely eulogize on social media. I prefer to do so in person, no matter how exceptional the loss, no matter how much the person meant to me. There is something hollow about it for me. I like to grieve like people are supposed to pray, in private, with the door closed, alone. What rare exceptions I do make are for people who have greatly impacted me, or for whom the loss feels like such a gut punch that I have to wail to the sky. Today is a fine time to do that, for Noel Neill has passed.
Most people know her as the first Lois. That’s a fine thing to remember her for. She also contributed to the World War 2 war effort, and cast echoes across time in every subsequent Superman project she took part in.
I remember her as a gentle and kind lady who, despite all of her contributions, treated everyone she met as if they were special, and that it was her honor to be in their presence. Because of that, it always felt as if you were, in fact, the one in the presence of someone special, and knew it, and that’s rare in a world so filled with selfishness. Everyone she met would tell you the same. I’ve met many people, and almost all of them have at least one person who didn’t like them in some way. I never heard a disparaging word about Noel Neill, and I doubt if I’ll meet anyone who could. She meant the world to many, many people.
I met her on the con circuit when I was wet behind the ears writing reviews for the Superman Homepage. She travelled with Larry Ward, another true gentleman. It was a strange few years, spending the money that would eventually bankrupt me on planes, trains, and automobiles trying to gain traction selling novels to people who wanted comics. People let me sleep on their couches and I got by. It was a hard time. There were few constants, much uncertainty, and a long line of people ready to step on your face and tell you your lack of worth. Noel was always the smile you could count on to cheer you when you were down, the encouraging voice in a sea of cynicism.
At every stop along the way, Noel was there as a comfort and as a blessing. She would always, no matter where she was headed, make the time to talk, be friendly and supportive, and just really make you feel as if you’d known her your entire life. It’s a hard quality to explain, and I am failing, but she really meant the world to me, and I am assured, having spoken to others who felt the same way, that she was like this with everyone she met. This is a huge loss.
Years pass and the people we love go away. Some lives you wish could have lasted longer, even in spite of the fullness of their existence.
We’ll miss you, Noel.