Category Archives: S.L.O.P.A.N.

What Happened to My Webcomic?

Long time readers will recall that I have a webcomic. I say “have” instead of “had” because the comic still technicially exists online. The comic hasn’t been updated in over a year. As far as any reader is concerned it’s effectively dead. It died before reaching it’s first plot point. Readers still don’t know who these characters are (other than their names), where they are, what they’re doing, or why they’re in the same comic. The comic stalled to a halt before it even got into gear.

So what happened? Well, it’s pretty simple. We only put out 11 pages, but each of those pages took a great deal of time and effort on the part of my artist friend. You can see for yourself that they’re pretty dang detailed, all drawn, inked, and lettered by hand. I’m not saying it’s the best artwork in the world, but hey, if the art looks this good at the start of the webcomic then it’s only going to go up from there. Just as an example, here is an archived strip, from its debut year, of PvP, an extremely successful webcomic that has been running continuously since 1998:

pvp19990528

And here is strip from 2013:

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As you can see the art has improved considerably. That’s the way webcomics work, and the fact that SLOPAN started out with such detailed visuals was a good sign, though I’ll be the first to admit that we have a lot to learn (particularly when it comes to panel transitions).

Unfortunately detailed artwork takes a long time to produce. The comic usually failed to update once a week, as promised. Eventually we both decided that my friend should build up a buffer of 10 or so comics, so that the site could keep updating even when sudden life events prevented my friend from drawing. Unfortunately sudden life events started piling up. A lot of stuff happened that I only half remember which it wouldn’t be right to tell you about anyway, but the long and short of it is that things got really crazy for us both. I had my senior year of college, getting married, etc, and my friend had his own stuff going on. We tabled it, and there it has remained for a full year.

So why bring it up now? Nostalgia mostly, as someone asked me recently what happened to it. Still I think you all deserve an update on why it hasn’t gone anywhere and whether it will in the future. I’ve talked to my friend and we both want to pick it up again. It’s just a matter of actually doing it. I’d get the ball rolling but I’m having a crises of faith right now. I’m not sure that SLOPAN is really all that good from a story point of view (which I can say because I’m writing the dang thing). I really like it, and my friend really likes it, but I don’t know why anyone else would want to read it. Also: pirates and ninjas? Really? Is it 2005? We missed that boat a long time ago. As a matter of fact, it was around 2005 that the story for SLOPAN was first conceived, though it was originally going to be a webseries. I’ve only turned it into a comic out of nostalgia and a desire to finally tell the story we spent so long working on. I’ve expanded it and rewritten it and added all kinds of little nerdy details that get me excited, but I don’t know if anyone else would really like it. I don’t think it would go anywhere.

Plus there’s the fact that my artist friend and I aren’t very good at comics right now. We’re still learning a lot about how to pace things, how to transition, how to develop characters, etc. I know that this story will come out rough. It’ll have to, as the only way to get better at anything is to do it. So not only am I worried that nobody really wants to hear this story, but I’m also worried that it will come out all wrong either way! You can see why I’m hesitant to start it up again.

Still, right now I’m leaning toward doing it anyway. Will people want to hear the story? Beats me. But I do want to tell it. Will the story come out the way I envision it? Almost certainly not. But that’s okay to. You know why? Because the next comic will come out better. I want to become a master storyteller. Now is as good a time as any to learn the craft of telling stories through comics.

Don’t expect updates anytime soon though. I’ll let you know.

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I Have a Webcomic

I love webcomics.

Correction: I love comics. Comic books, comic strips, manga, “graphic novels”, I eat em’ up. But I’m also incredibly cheap. I’m not the kind of guy who goes down to the local comic book shop and picks up the latest issues about his favorite superheroes. I’m the guy who goes to the local comic book shop and sits on the floor in the back aisle reading whatever comic caught my eye on the way in.

So considering that I am

a) a comics fanatic and

b) cheap

webcomics was just up my alley. If you’re not familiar with them the concept isn’t too complicated: they’re comic strips and pages put up on a website at regular intervals that you can read for free. I first discovered them back in high school with PvP, which I had read about in a magazine. It was funny, and I enjoyed being able to blow through the archives at my own pace. I gobbled up years of content in just a few days, and was hungry for more. Now I have about eleven separate webcomics that I check in on regularly, and who knows how many more I’ll discover before I die.

I was impressed by how much the internet had changed things. Just twenty years ago if you had a great comic idea you wanted to share with the world you had only one option: get picked up by a syndicate or a big name publisher like Marvel or DC. If they didn’t want your comic then the best you could do is draw your comic on bits of paper and hand them out on a street corner. If you had plenty of extra cash lying around you could self-publish, but that doesn’t guarantee that anyone would buy. A few people like Jeff Smith managed to beat the system and succeed, but it was a million to one shot.

Today if you have a great idea for a comic all you have to do is make it. Write the script, draw the panels, and get yourself a website to showcase it on. That’s it. That’s all you need to make your work available to millions of people worldwide. Now whether or not they’ll want to read it or not is a different story, but that seemingly impassable moneywall that was distribution has been breached. You don’t need to be a millionaire to self-publish anymore. You just need to have an internet connection.

Now we come to me. I love webcomics and I want to write professionally someday. My art skills are subpar but one of my best friends is a talented artist that currently has no creative outlet for his work. The only thing stopping me from making my own webcomic was myself. It’s fun to think about creating a webcomic but actually getting off your duff and writing one is hard work.

But I did it. Last November I sat down and pounded out a script for a long form, comic book style webcomic. I contacted my artist friend and he was more than willing to draw it for me. Delays followed: technical difficulties, personal problems, etc. Months went by with no progress. But now all that is over. Our comic, S.L.O.P.A.N. is online and updating once a week.  It’s not Shakespeare, I’ll tell you that much. But it’s mine. I have a webcomic. It may never be very popular or critically acclaimed, but it is something real that I have done.

So check the comic out if you can. I’ll probably post now and then about the comic, and go into more detail about the story behind it. For now just enjoy it, or ignore it, your choice.