So I wrote this a few years back, before the recent troubles with police shooting unarmed suspects… Oh well, it’s important to the story so it needs to stay in.
I probably should have done this a month ago when Blip shut down but it wasn’t until this page came up that I remembered this (I write the scripts way in advance and sometimes forget them).
Back in early February 2009 I was linked to a top 10 list of dirty jokes in Animaniacs by a guy calling himself the Nostalgia Critic. I decided to check out his website, That Guy With The Glasses, and found a host of other critics like the Nostalgia Chick, the Spoony One, Linkara, Marzgurl and plenty others. The idea of reviewing didn’t really appeal to me since I felt all potential topics were taken but I couldn’t help but wonder just how they made their money since most of them were doing their shows full time. Eventually I learned that they had ads that sometimes didn’t play on my PC for some reason.
In 2010 I noticed a lot of the comments had obviously watched the whole video but were commenting as soon as it went up. I was trying to get myself known as a fan in hopes of spreading LWI to a larger crowd, though mostly failed at that. Trying to get in an edge, I went to blip.tv in search of early episodes and found that you could do more than reviews. You could do original programming (I knew of Red vs Blue’s existence but was not aware of how big it was).
Because I had just finished a course to enter a field that was not hiring, I felt bad about asking my parents for money to learn film, so I figured much like photoshop and writing I could teach myself the basics. My sister had a digital camera that could film so I reckoned I could borrow that when needed. And I assumed I could find actors for free since most of the shows I watched had a volunteer cast. And I was unemployed at the time so there was no need to worry about a schedule. But, with all this, I never filmed a second aside from some vlogs floating around Youtube.
The problem? I couldn’t work out a premise to write that I could feasibly shoot.
I suffered from an overly grand imagination back then. Every comic had to be an epic long runner. Every novel had to span eight hundred pages. And every idea for a show had to require a budget beyond what a Sydney kid living on Centrelink could afford. Elves, vampires, zombies, ghosts, magic. Nothing sounded good to me unless they had one of those elements and I could not reign in my ambition.
Eventually I came up with an idea that could work, but it was years later so I was too little too late. The window had closed and Blip was reportedly paying much less than it had been. I made a go of reviewing comics to get on TGWTG but they closed submissions and my new PC could not handle rendering the files. A few folks on the Misfile forums and I got it in our heads that we should do an animated fan series. I wrote the first two episodes, we were getting ready to record some voices for it, but then we discovered no quality animator was going to give us the time of day on the meager budget we had scraped together.
When I look back, I feel like I screwed up the perfect chance. It was the heyday of ad supported video content and I should have grabbed it while I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Even though I know I would have sucked as a director and had no clue how to edit a video together, I sometimes look at these people earning their living by creating reviews or original shows and I kick myself a little. Even though I stopped going to That Guy With the Glasses after so many people I liked left and I know many of them had to give up the shows and get day jobs. Even though I know so many people are now screwed because they relied on Blip because their videos get content ID strikes on Youtube.
So as many of you have noticed I don’t blog that often. It’s mostly because I forget about it but the other main point is I just don’t have much to say that’s new that I think you guys would care about. Otherwise it’d just be “Books are still for sale, welcome new readers, job was same old, same old,” every week. Or me talking about the comics I read (Got Lazarus Volume 2 today. Great series, go check it out). My life’s been boring since my last break up.
I used to blog more, the old site before the wipe had a number of posts, but I recently read a few old ones and realised how bad I am at conveying my opinion. And it’s gotten me into trouble in the past. Hell, once or twice I’ve sent questions to people on tumblr, but when I read the answer I realise what I asked sounds nothing like what I meant, so the other person usually doesn’t give an answer to what I wanted to know. And I’ve written columns before, only to immediately want to go back and start from scratch because I realised how I should have phrased something.
And I know I’m not the only one who does this. I’ve seen other famous folks online receive negative feedback to blogs and comics, only to lash out at the commenter that they live in a fantasy world. But when you read the original post, you can tell where the comments are coming from. Usually that reaction is just from the author not wanting to admit they screwed up though, but sometimes you get an apology or edit.
So, rather than make an idiot out of myself, I’ve decided I should keep quiet unless I’m absolutely certain about what I’m saying. I’d rather spend the time used typing up these words trying to make a better comic.
Because after all, that’s why you guys are here.
Hope all is well with you.
Last Friday, Paul’s final strip for LWI was uploaded after they were all wiped from the site back in 2012.
Early last year, Fer managed to get a lot of work for his art and needed some time off to take care of that. He still managed to get the LWI trade finished, and you’ll get to see those new pages starting this week, but we needed something to fill in the gap. I had initially been wary about uploading Paul’s work because it was nearly 300 comics and doing them in one go was not all that appealing. But I did get a few messages and posts asking when those comics were going to come back because that was when a lot of my fans got into the comic. So Fer’s break ended up being the perfect opportunity to finally get it done.
It’s kind of hard to say how I feel about the old strips. I still like the art, but when I printed the first fifty, I cringed at the writing. A lot of it felt stale and bland. Paul would reject strips back when we worked together and after looking back at those scripts to compare, holy crap am I glad he kept me from making an even bigger idiot of myself. He also took out excessive dialogue that helped the flow better in some cases. Sure, he’d cut corners here and there, but the guy was busy and it’s not like he saw any money off of this. That would be my main regret, that I never got to compensate him for all the hard work he did. Unfortunately I didn’t get anything either so there was nothing to pay him. We expected it would and I think if we had gone through with our Image plan it could have happened, but I never had a pitch that interested him.
I also expected it to go on forever, even though around strip 200 he told me he was leaving that year. Instead of wrapping up story lines I instead set up new ones. But surprisingly it all worked out since most of the villains were unintentionally had written endings. Helena is living as a human with Becky, Nell is dealing with Drae, who is dying of an infection, the toaster never got its hands on the magic wand, and Hannibal is stuck under the house. When I pitched the idea to Paul back in 2008 there was actually a reason for all this weird crap that I explained to him, but it actually works even without the explanation. I am glad Paul gave me the final five strips when he brought me crashing back to reality with the news he was leaving. He could have just said seeya and left me in the lurch, but he didn’t. And he had given me fair warning far in advance, I was just too dumb not to listen.
Now, there’s one last thing I need to address. I said that Paul and I did 300 strips together, so why are there only 277? Well that’s because back when LWI first started, I was the artist. It was actually an experiment to finally get me to make my own comics. However, I can’t draw so Paul came in. And when we got the LWI website, I elected to not upload those strips because I felt they would turn off newcomers and didn’t feel that they added much. They introduced some of the cast, but you don’t really need them to enjoy the comic.
Instead of uploading them, I have decided that after a few art courses to help me and some more practice comics, I will eventually round up the 300 number by writing and drawing a prequel detailing David’s car accident, how he got Helena the cat and Hannibal the robot, how Alice became his roommate and of course, how David decided to get into comics. Actually it’s more likely I’ll get someone else to draw it, maybe Fer if he has the chance, but for now the plan is that I will tackle it in a year or so.
So that’s about all I have left to say. Thank you always to Paul for his hard work for almost three years, I could not have gotten this comic where it is without you. Thanks to Fer for taking over after him. And of course, thank you for sticking with us for so long, even during the down times and hiatuses.
Until next time, take care.
So last week I decided to try and do more with social media to try and reach more people that way, so I shared this comic on Tumblr, which was connected to my twitter, and this time I remembered to tag the picture so more people would see it. On twitter it got a few retweets from people agreeing with the intended message of how it was hard for new titles to gain an audience compared to established characters. Unfortunately, one person on Tumblr caught onto an unfortunate implication regarding the cover David is holding up and people latched onto that. Not everyone, I got quite a number of instant messages from people who understood the intended point of the comic and told me not to worry, but there were more people reblogging the negative than positive replies.
Realising I had offended people, I amended the original post with an apology and then wrote a new post that explained the intent of the comic and also said sorry for the unintentional message it gave. To me, that’s the right thing to do. If you hurt someone’s feelings, you apologise, even if you didn’t mean to because you still hurt them. I got even more notes saying thank you for this, with many complimenting me for being so mature and accepting the mistake. However, many did not see it and the reblogs reached some online celebrities like Linkara from Atop the 4th Wall. Let’s just say it exploded after that, so I gave another explanation. This lead to more of the same, some saying good on me, others ignoring it, but this time people were outright cutting out the apologies to paint me as a monster and some even comparing this to the dickwolves issue at Penny Arcade.
Now, I do not believe anyone is under an obligation to accept my apology. I have no right to accept it. All I can do is say sorry, which is why I only responded to personal messages after. There was nothing else I could have done so I didn’t try. But it did still hurt a little to see people mocking me for trying to own up to my mistake, chalking it up to a poor little white boy crying over being privileged. It also hurt to realise the only reason these people are even acknowledging my existence is because I screwed up and they just want to punish me for it.
That is one benefit of this whole thing. LWI had its hits double for a few days. I do honestly regret not putting a link to the site in the original post because imagine how many would have clicked on it? But while I could have tried to stir the pot a little more, these days I hold a higher value on my reputation.
It’s dying down, thankfully, and the best part is that hundreds of people saw the comic, liked it, and became fans. So there is a silver lining to this cloud. I am going to be more wary of what I share, this experience has taught me that.
Still, I would rather have gotten 25,000 notes because people liked me work, not because I made a mistake. Oh well, maybe some day. People are enjoying Fer’s Batgirls pic so maybe that’ll be it.
So another infection happened. Actually, as it turned out, it was the same one as last time. See, the trouble is that even though I deleted most of the code, I kept missing one particular corrupted file, which then spread into the rest of the system. Realising I am not qualified, I turned to the help of a specialist who cleaned out the code and I was ready to get back to work on that Monday… only to find google still had the malware sign up. I enquired at DH and they said the site was still infected. So I contacted the guy again since he worked last time, only to discover the problem was he had cleaned out LWI only, not Tnemrot. This meant I still had a heavily infected site on the same server as a clean one. It doesn’t exactly make me happy to learn I paid a guy a few hundred for nothing. Even worse, he left the infected files on the server, still active. Thankfully, I was watching the thing like a hawk and managed to get them before they did any more damage.
By now it was early January. Every year I make a list of things I want to do before the year ends. In the past, I only missed five or so items on a list of forty but this year? Almost half the list thanks to the site outages. I wanted to see if I could get more guest strips done but I can’t link back to an infected website. I wanted to try and bring in more readers, but again, same problem. There were a bunch of writing jobs and I usually use LWI and Tnemrot as examples of my writing. Unfortunately, the sites were coming up blank when they were happening.
I hit the wall. I have books but I’ve sold less than a hundred. I’ve spent a few thousand on advertising but now that’s all money flushed down the drain since readers leave during the down times. And when there’s a lot of those, a lot of readers leave. I reached out to some other creators out there, basically begging for a link in the hopes that some traffic might come my way. None of them got back to me. And I am so far in the red when it comes to this career it will take a damn miracle to get me out.
Honestly, I was ready to quit. Just let the DH account expire and start again somewhere else. Maybe finally finish my novel.
And then I remembered you guys.
I remembered the people who came to my table at cons, picked up LWI, laughed as they flipped through it, and then handed over their cash to take home a copy. I remembered the people who begged for more Tempest. I remembered that there were always a few people on twitter, and elsewhere, who tried to contact me during the down times and ask when the sites would come back.
So this is me saying sorry. I’m sorry for almost leaving you in the lurch like that. I’m sorry for not being able to keep the sites going and let you read the comics. I’m sorry for taking so long when there was a problem. I’m sorry for taking you for granted.
I’m sorry to Fer and Tatiana for almost throwing away your hard work. And I’m sorry these comics don’t make enough to buy you the luxurious lifestyles you deserve.
This is my New Year’s Resolution. To immediately jump on any problem the sites have. To make sure the readers can come back knowing the comics will always be here. And to never take anyone for granted.
Wish me luck.