Huge, world-shattering announcement time...

Huge, world-shattering announcement time...

Postby JimRob on Tue Jan 14, 2003 10:25 am

(Reproduced here in case you only check the site on Fridays.)

After this storyline - which will go on for three to five more strips - AF will be officially (words which always toll like plague bells in these announcements) on hiatus for a while. I don't know exactly how long yet, though I will set a date of return soon; common sense dictates it'll be at least two weeks but definitely no longer than two months, on the basis that a) given my other workload I won't be able to get much done in two weeks, and b) if it takes over two months (not including the thinking I've already been doing) to decide on changes I really shouldn't be doing a regular comic strip.

The perhaps slender reason for this is that I haven't been very satisfied with what I've been doing with the strip lately. I'm certain that it hasn't been as funny or as interesting as it once was: the humour seems to have withered away to a vague ironic suffusion over the last panel, compensated for by reams of philosophical speculation (which, as in my essays, is always a neon sign that I have nothing real to write about). New storylines have not been forthcoming, either; Alex's feeling that he is going nowhere is wholly endorsed by his creator's.

Though part of this is probably that I haven't been writing as much as I should have - the strip is undoubtedly not lacking in potential for storylines and jokes - but I still feel that I've come to some form of stalemate. The funniest and most interesting things I think of now seem to run against the seriousness of the imaginary world I've built up; I'm not drawing a strip I'd want to read any more. Perhaps it's that I feel obliged to take what I write rather seriously (especially given the level of appreciation some put into my work, sometimes to the extent of pointing out details I didn't even notice, for which I am sincerely grateful). To some extent that's no bad thing, but it can, if not moderated, suck the fun out of the eventual product as much as it sucks the fun out of the process of creating it. Essentially I'd like to get back to a situation where I can enjoy devising and drawing strips without the feeling that I should be treating my characters, my strip, my readership as a whole with more respect; I'm confident it'd be a lot more entertaining if I did.

During the hiatus I'm going to be doing various things. Character redesigning, to bring my creatures a rather more into line with their real-life equivalents. Some entirely new characters. Refinement of my drawing technique, with the goal of finding a process which will let me draw at least three strips a week again (because the weekly thing is really a bit crap). A lot more scripting and editing in advance. Probably a new title and site design. And, I'd hope, a rather freer state of mind about the whole thing. What will emerge from this is unlikely to be a total departure from what you already know, but I'd hope it'll be at least as interesting as what I've done in the past (and a good deal more so than what I'm doing now).

My apologies to anyone who finds this disappointing behaviour. And my warmest thanks to everyone who's put up with and supported my erratic state of mind over the strip; I hope you'll come back and put up with me again when I return.
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Postby Tek Roo on Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:48 am

::salutes::

Being the compulsive supporter that I am, I shall be here for you when you return! I know how hard it is to do something like this when you aren't really into it, and I for one would much rather you took a break and sorted things out than to continue providing a product that you are not particularly proud of, even though your audience may disagree with your view.

Am I still enjoying the comic? You bet!

Is the comic different that what it used to be? Yes, it is!

What happened? I'm not entirely sure, but perhaps you started leaning away from the social issues not long after Sybil moved in with Alex. Or was it something else, that may or may not have happened around this time? Not quite as melancholic as it used to be? I dunno, but I hope this tiny obsevation helps! I guess I need to go back and review the timeline!

Anyway, good luck! If you need anything, let me know! Mind you, the support that I tend to offer ranges from used raingear to humourous puddings, so you may just want to offer me a forced smile and then back away slowly. :wink:
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Postby K. Ivan Ruppert on Thu Jan 16, 2003 1:13 am

It's said that there's no state you can achieve that you can't improve on. I wish you luck on your hiatus Jim, and I hope you come back revitalized and with a renewed sense of purpous.

That said, I've never had a problem enjoying AF. Even during Grow Up, which by and large I didn't "Get" in the proper sense, I was still amused. Heck, I've been through the archives like 3 or 4 times already!

So, if you claim that you can do better, all I gotta say is "If it's this good now, I can't wait to see 'Better!'" :D

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Re: Huge, world-shattering announcement time...

Postby ZOMBIE USER 5169 on Thu Jan 16, 2003 11:29 am

JimRob wrote:My apologies to anyone who finds this disappointing behaviour. And my warmest thanks to everyone who's put up with and supported my erratic state of mind over the strip; I hope you'll come back and put up with me again when I return.


No worries. Thomas K Dye of "Newshounds" is doing much the same right now, and David C Simpson of "Ozy and Millie" did it a couple of years back, so I'd say Redesigning Hiatii are an established practice now.
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Postby JimRob on Thu Jan 16, 2003 4:39 pm

Thanks, everybody.

I did wonder while I was writing that announcement whether I was subconsciously copying the webcartoonists I most admire... but I think it's a good enough idea anyway for me not to be too worried about it.
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Re: Huge, world-shattering announcement time...

Postby ZOMBIE USER 5169 on Fri Jan 17, 2003 4:44 pm

JimRob wrote:The funniest and most interesting things I think of now seem to run against the seriousness of the imaginary world I've built up; I'm not drawing a strip I'd want to read any more. Perhaps it's that I feel obliged to take what I write rather seriously (especially given the level of appreciation some put into my work, sometimes to the extent of pointing out details I didn't even notice, for which I am sincerely grateful).


I might be missing your point here, but... I don't think seriousness has to be a problem. I love the books and telly series that mix outright madcap comedy with outright drama, such as "Buffy" and a lot of Terry Pratchett's books. (Anyone read "Witches Abroad"? Oh man, that poor wolf... :cry: ) There's no contradiction between the comic and serious, as I see it, and I think you do a pretty good job of combining them.

I don't know if that's any help.
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Postby Hortmage on Fri Jan 17, 2003 6:03 pm

James,

I have thoroughly enjoyed your strip these last several months. I wish you luck in the future, and hope you can find yourself.

If you do, would you see if I'm there, too? :roll:
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 8454 on Sat Jan 18, 2003 1:03 am

i VERY much love the idea of an improved AF!

that's the advantage of webtooning: the ability to reform! makes me want to watch Star Trek 3 again.

anyway, i'm behind you %100. sorry, i'm a little useless at this hour.
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Postby JimRob on Sat Jan 18, 2003 1:56 am

Tim Tylor wrote:There's no contradiction between the comic and serious, as I see it, and I think you do a pretty good job of combining them.

That's true, and I don't think I could go for very long without doing something serious. (Perhaps I should rephrase that.) It's that I felt the seriousness had started to permeate everything, and there wasn't a space to be light-hearted any more. Maybe it's an (eeg) growing-up thing; but I'd like to carve out a space to be a little immature again.

I will also take this opportunity to add that 'Friday Shoes' is a title of the gods, and I look forward to seeing the comic which will appear below it.
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Postby Stig Hemmer on Sat Jan 18, 2003 10:26 am

Good luck!

I hope that one morning in the not too distant future you will wake up with the perfect new storyline for the strip.

Or perhaps you might wake up with an idea for a completely different strip.

Or perhaps you might consider another media entirely, like a novel or something. Storytelling is storytelling and you are good at it.

Again, good luck!
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Postby Niall on Sun Jan 19, 2003 6:47 pm

Obviously, we want you to do whatever you think is best for you, but I can't help noticing (and rather selfishly dreading) the connection with what used to be (and really still is, despite the lack of new material and my familiarity with the jokes) my favourite webcomic (or any comic really, since I only read webcomics), No Outlet. For those of you unfamiliar with Grover, Rex and company, the author (Adam Greengard) went on a month long hiatus, came back, and then a few short weeks later gave up the comic. Yes, it really is rather selfish to complain about an author giving up (especially after having enjoyed No Outler once/twice a week for 3 years), but I couldn't help noticing the similarity between Adam Greengard's reasons for quitting, and JimRob's reasons for hiatus (I presume most webcomic authors go through similar things, but still).

No Outlet's epitaph:

"To Whom it May Concern: So as I was thinking about this this week, more than once I thought that it'd just be easier to draw something and put it up and be done with it for another week. Cause really, that'd almost have to be than typing up something here that says "eh, you know, I think I'm done," cause it seems like such an event at this point, even if only to me. So anyways, yeah, I think this is it for the No Outlet. It's been five years, and that's a pretty long time; four of those years are even not so abhorrent as to be fovever hidden from view. Most of those four years.
As for why I'm giving it up, well, it's all a rich tapestry, you know? Unsurprisingly enough, I'd chalk a lot of it up to being "unsatisfied with my work." I'll have what I think is a good idea, but I can't seem to convert it into a comic strip that I think is good. I took that month off and for a couple weeks after I was on it, but I pretty quickly went back to writing Sunday morning/drawing Sunday afternoon.
I'm probably still gonna draw something, and I'm sure that at some point I'll find myself drawing something with Grover in it. I don't know when or where though. Thanks to all for support, particularly early on."

I don't really know what I'm trying to say, other than "I really hope you don't end the comic, because it's really good".

As far as the whole "seriousness" thing goes, I'd like to say that I really prefer the higher emphasis on words and irony and stuff, rather than the sort of wacky "comic book" antics of most strips. I mean, that can work, but I feel the only really great comics are ones that have characters that you can identify with and are well rounded (something like The Class Menagerie for example...though I know No Outlet's characters weren't exactly deep, but I just found them incredibly easy to identify with), and the only way to have that really is to have a real serious side to things (though not all the time...I mean, twists and depth and character arc and deep dark secrets can stop being attractive start becoming irritating...).

Oh yeah, before I forget, I should probably say "Hi, I'm new" or something. So "Hi, I'm new". New to the message board that is. Been reading the comic for a wee while. So, um, yeah...
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Postby JimRob on Mon Jan 20, 2003 2:56 pm

Yes. I agree. I particularly rue the death of No Outlet, since it was pretty much unique (especially in its later weekly format).

Hiatus is looking like the number one cause of webcomic death these days. I generally think that they're a cause for concern when the author's been losing interest in their strip generally, when they indicate another stage in the decline. Or worse, the author at some subconscious level doesn't actually want to draw comics at all; so the hiatus acts (again subconsciously) as a device to get them away from having to draw it, and from the state of non-drawing it's difficult to get back.

I seem to display fairly obvious symptoms of a downward spiral: starting with four a week, dropping to a consistent three, then to one, then going to none for a period... however, I'm not aware of any deep-seated dislike of what I'm doing. Indeed, I've grown to view comics as a more and more serious medium (in the 'significant' sense of serious, not in the 'not humorous' sense), and one with possibilities no other medium has. I have sometimes been rather doubtful, but that's a personality trait of mine which attaches to anything I do. As for my subconscious... well, I hope there's nothing too bad in there. Anyway, I'll try my level best.

And I'll try to avoid 'wacky antics syndrome'. I am trying to aim towards a slightly more absurd kind of humour, as that's what I find I enjoy most these days, but I don't think I'm all that good at full-on oddball madness. I'm also looking to be more experimental my approach; more to avoid the 'three panel set up then funny line in fourth' formula, which it's easy to lapse into in writing (and, I find, in reading), than anything else. For an idea of what I mean, I'd point to consciously exploratory things like Death to the Extremist and Cat & Girl (which, you may have gathered from the longevity of my link to it, I really like), and strips with a slightly more absurd style of humour such as Achewood, Scary Go Roundor Wigu. And, now I think about it, No Outlet.

Wow. I sure do like talking about myself. Um... how have you all been lately? And, Niall, are you related to the not-altogether-famous 1989 Amiga conversation robot?
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Postby Niall on Mon Jan 20, 2003 3:26 pm

I'm also looking to be more experimental my approach; more to avoid the 'three panel set up then funny line in fourth' formula


To bring up No Outlet yet again, I'll definitely like this move, since No Outlet became even better after the format change; with the setup-setup-setup-punchline structure gone, it's much easier to play around with the whole "look" of the things; framing becomes more important (in my opinion, since you're free to do whatever you want size and shape wise with the panel boundaries)- hopefully giving things a more interesting feel straight off. Subtle visual gags can also be incorportated without having to be the main punchline (see the top right; I totally love that), plus it allows you to simply have more text, which is great for conversations.


And no, I'm not named after an Amiga robot :)[/quote]
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Postby Gloria on Thu Jan 23, 2003 2:56 pm

*crawls under a rock and whimpers*
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Re: Huge, world-shattering announcement time...

Postby ZOMBIE USER 6611 on Sat Jan 25, 2003 9:55 pm

I wish you all success in your endeavors and pursuits.
May you find scope and purpose by exploratory routes.
And when you reach a point where you are steeled to try again,
You'll see that we, your staunch and loyal readers, here remain.
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Postby Niall on Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:07 pm

Let me just offer a bit of applause for today's AF.

You couldn't hear it, but I did clap.

When you get back, I know it will be better than ever. No pressure; we already have ample evidence that it will be.


Uh....just read that again, and pretend I said it this time...
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