Fixes, The Future, and More!
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.