Ok, it’s official: we’re back August 20, which is a Wednesday. In honor of HPL’s birthday we’ll also have a page on Friday, and then we will resume our regular Friday schedule. I have some notes for various weekly posts, but no promises on them just yet. I’ll still be doing art for the first three months, then Jerry Bennet will take over and I think you are going to thank me and wonder why I didn’t change sooner. I’m thinking our current issue, Book 5, will last out the rest of 2014, more or less. Then we get down to business. I know Book 6 will be at least 100 pages long, so if we get it all drawn out, that’s two more years of LIM you hvae to look forward. I can tell you I never thought I’d still be on this project this long when I started back in 2008, but it’s been a gas…and some of my favorite stuff is still to come.
Healthwise, everything is still in the Twilight Zone. All the outward signs are good: good appetite, feel good except for fatigue, gaining weight, getting exercise by wearing leg and hand weights and taking walks, doing some yoga. I’m a little disorganized, with too many little projects to do, but I get in a good day’s work everyday. My liver function tests continue to improve. I have few side effects from the chemo. No pain. Most often, I forget I’m even sick and have to readjust when it finally occurs to me. I have one more chemo and then a PET scan and that’s where we will find out if the outward signs reflect the inward ones.
Healthwise, things are looking up. Still no prognosis, but I’m gaining wait, one tumor is definitely shrinking and liver functions seem to be improving at a an important rate. PET scan near the end of August will give a better big picture, but the extreme fatigue turned out to be the cumulative effect of the chemo, and with a few adjustments I am getting much more done.
The strip is going to start up again on August 20–teh old Gentleman’s birthday–and since that’s a Wednesday, we’ll also have a new page up on Friday as a bonus. Please tell your friends The first three months will be the pages I’ve been working on, and then I’m proud to announce the new artist, Jerry Bennet, will make his debut. You’re going to love him, he’s terrific (assuming I haven’t cursed something by announcing it this early.) He’ll carry it through to the end of Book 5, then we will both take a break to prep for the ultimate issue 6. No sense short changing anybody at this late date.
Got my latest CT scan results yesterday. The growth of the tumor has stopped but there is little sign of shrinkage. One doctor thinks this is the best we can hope for, the head guy a bit more positive that we should go another three rounds of chemo and reassess. Problem is, the only other chemo treatment for this cancer now believed to be pancreatic) has less of a success rate. Besides the growth stopping, there are a few other details that tip me toward the positive. One, the delay in my chemo means that the CT doesn’t register at least one full week of additional work by the drugs. Two, my ability to eat greater amounts and to be able to digest more fibrous foods indicates the stricture in my stomach is enlarging, which points to shrinkage in the tumor. This area is not able to be seen clearly on a CT scan, so no one can say for sure, but the change is so dramatic that I don’t see how it can be otherwise. Biggest day to day issue is fatigue, but I’m doing what I can. I need a t-shirt that says “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
But still pushing ahead on all fronts on LIM. I now have 12 pages finished except for color, still looking for penciller, and moving ahead on Book six synopsis (well, actually, I’ve finished three additional pages of that except for coloring as well, but decided I needed to focus more on getting Book 5 wrapped up.)
Had to skip chemotherapy last week, because my white blood cell count was dangerously low.SO I got it yesterday, and am just enjoying the general discomfort that comes with the first three or four days. The good news is that it seems to be working. I am able to eat full meals of solid food, getting up 2000 calories a day on my own without supplements. There was a good period there when I couldn’t get half that even with Boost and smoothies. And although I haven’t completely reversed the weight loss, I’ve slowed it from roughly 10 pounds a week to 2 pounds. I claim a victory.
Still hunting for a penciller. I’ve a number of really enthusiastic beginners, but no one I was willing to pay the rate I’m offering. I don’t need a mimic, but I need a certain quality level to feel comfortable. In the meantime I just keep plunging ahead on my own. I need to go back and start coloring and then I can start posting again. I’ve got three months of inked/lettered art ready. That should give me a buffer.
Been on a samurai movie binge. Some good,some great, all of them make me wish I could introduce a samurai into LIM:-)
Last chemo tomorrow, and I feel I’m better prepared by far than I was for the last two.
The guy I had working on the pencils didn’t work out, which is a shame because I thought he was doing a good job. I’ve put out the word and have a couple of other prospects. In the meantime, I continue to move forward. I have one more page to finish (no. 92!) before I will then go back and start color.
Have a good weekend.
Things continue to bubble along. Finished my third chemo last week; next week will be the last before a new CT scan, which will show if the chemo is working. I think it is, not because I’m Pollyanna, but because of certain little changes here and there in my body that seem to indicate some shrinkage in the tumor. That doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods, it just means there’s a bit more of a chance to stick around awhile longer than could be.
I have a wealth of material for LIM building up. As I mentioned, 7 pages ready to color (hope to start that this weekend), 8 new pages written and being worked on by the new guy. He’s having a bit of trouble finding his feet, but I’ve told him not to try and imitate my style. I think his own style fits fine. Moving ahead (albeit slowly) on the book 6 synopsis, and I got this wild hair that I wanted to draw the actual last four pages of book 6 myself, so it ends with my work. To that end, I pencilled and am inking those pages now as well.
I appreciate all the good wishes and good thoughts and hopefully I won’t sound greedy if I ask for them to continue. Several people have made donations, including some very large ones. I appreciate those as well. I am not actively seeking donations, but any money received is going into its own little account to pay the new artist and do other things to help finish the book. But it will be finished in one form or another, no matter what.
A little lighter update today.
I pulled all my notes and scribbles and various versions for book 6 together and completed my first draft outline. So much has changed since I first conceived the whole thing that it took a lot of juggling. Characters have changed, motivations have altered, and some events have been moved in time. For instance, the back story of how Kartophilus was a living tumor that came out of Abdul Al-Hazred was originally part of the climax. But it seemed to fit so much better where I ended up putting it that I didn’t sweat moving it. A few things have gone in reverse, moving to this last chapter.
The story is the same, mind you, and the climax is the same as has always been planned. But new events, new characters, etc., have just added different coloration to what was already there.Better coloration.
It looks like it will run, if done in comic book form, well over 100 pages. I still need to go back over the previous five books to make sure I haven’t missed a plot thread or incident that needs to be wrapped up, but reading over what I have just as it is now, I have to say this:
It’s going to be a hell of an issue.
I didn’t mean to let so much time go past without another update. It puts the wrong idea in people’s heads. I’ve had good days and bad days, most of the bad being due to other things than the chemo and disease. A missed med, a bad acupuncture session, etc.
I’m into my second round of chemo now. I know there is sometihng at war in my guts because I can feel things burbling and moving –not like gas, smart-alecks–and I am taking it as a sign that chemo is kicking some cancer butt.
Lovecraft kept an actual journal of his dying days, even through all the tremendous pain. An odd one to the end, he. Me, I first of all don’t plan on getting to that point, but if I do, I will be too tanked on morphine to do any writing.
I’m still moving forward slowly. I can get about a panel a day done when I’m feeling good. And I’m writing script pages for the new guy, and trying to work out all the wagging tails that must be settled in the final book. And there are a few pages I may just have to draw myself no matter what.
My own personal Cthulhu got his first taste of chemotherapy yesterday. It’s three drugs, but a 46 hour infusion, so I’m wearing a pump around till tomorrow. No side effects to speak of except, weirdly, an aversion to extreme cold, like the Old Gentleman himself. Only this is weirder. Cold tapwater feels like my fingers are being cut with tiny razors. Ice causes my throat to feel like it is constricting. I hate to think what touching my tongue to a cold flagpole in winter would be like. But these are all just sensations, not physical. Aside from the discomfort I could soak in an ice bath and drink iced tea to my heart’s content. It only lasts a day or two, so I’m good with it.
First couple of days here were hectic but we are settled in now. I’m getting a few hours in on LIM each day. I hope to finalize a deal with another artist when I get back home to finish out issue 5, which will be another 30 pages or so. I have seven completed without color now, and want to finish drawing this sequence before I go back and start color. We might even be up and running by the end of the month and make it through the end of the year without another disruption in service.
I’m writing out detailed notes for the climactic issue, so no matter what happens, the story will be wrapped up. Could be just notes, might be a mix of prose and pictures, might even make it into full comic pages.
Thanks to each and everyone of you for your good wishes, prayers and support. I appreciate it more you know,
Ok, we’re in the home stretch. No sense having done all this work and not getting your comic out there for people to see.. There are two basic options: publish it yourself, or go with one of the umbrella groups that publish multiple titles.
I took this route, not because of any particular merits of the method but because I didn’t know any better. However, it has worked out fine for me, and I’m not competing with other strips on the same site.
I use WordPress, with the Comic Press plug-in. Both are available for free download, but you have to have your own hosting site. (There are actually two WordPress optioons. The one linked above is WordPress.org, which is free; WordPress.com will host your site, but charges a fee and is less flexible than WordPress.org,
I have to say WordPress is not anywhere near as easy to install and manage as their promotoion would lead you to believe. WordPress is an open source program, so there’s no one funnel for information. I suppose if you’ve already mastered PHP and CSS you’ll do ok; otherwise, be prepared to spend a lot of hours searching for answers to what seem like basic questions. The forums are largely worthless.
Comic Press is fairly straightforward, and it makes loading the comic pages a snap. The forums are a little more organized, but I find that you still have to know CSS and PHP and general geek speak to be able to unbderstand a lot of the answers, or even to ask the questions.
Some people call these networks, others call them collective; I’m just feeling a little mavericky today. The idea is that one hosting service features multiple strips. Some are devoted to a single genre, like fantasy, while others are very diverse. Some only feature a handful of strips, others have dozens.
Here’s a list of links to the ones I know of, in no particular order:
Webcomics Nation -wide variety
Palace in the Sky – fantasy/anime/manga
DrunkDuck – wide variety
Koala Wallop - eclectic
+x comics – eclectic
Webcomics Inc -variety
There are a lot more, but these wil get you started.
Now here’s where the rubber hits the road. There are so many webcomics out there that you are sure to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t promote the site. If you have any visions of selling t-shirts and other merchandise, you’re going to have to get into paid advertising.
Your first step is going to have to be getting your SEO terms right. SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization, and the basic idea is that you have to choose keywords that not only fairly describe your content, but that are also used in your content in such a way that the search engine spiders can find and index the page. If i could explain it better than that I would, but frankly, I’m kind of on the dense side when it comes to stuff like this. I read dozens of online articles and checked out two books from the library and I still don’t know if I’m doing it right. I do the best I can, and my comic shows up on the first page of search results for various permutations of ‘Lovecraft’. That’s the goal: to appear as high in the search pages as possible. I’ve been told if you’re not in the top ten searches on something like Google, it’s unlikely anyone will ever navigate to page 1,006 to see your listing.
Next, you want to take advantage of the sites out there that offer free promotional opportunities. There are a number of webcomic indexes/lists that you can post to, Top Web Comics having by far the highest visibility.
Then there are comic message boards and review sites, both written and podcast. You can submit your comic, or post notes on a forum. I have no favorites in the written sites, and there are a million of them. I tend toward the horror related sites, obviously, but you should search for those sites that relate to your particular comic. Of the podcasts, I stick to Digital Strips, both for listening pleasure and trying to get the word out.
Advertising is a big step up, though it doesn’t have to be expensive. Most sites offer ad space, and the rates can vary widely depending on the popularity of the strip. The easiest way to get started with ads is Project Wonderful, which allows you to bid on ads on sites you select, and you are only charged for the time you’re ad is up. For instance, if you bid 50¢ a day on an ad, but only make it active for 12 hours, you would only pay 25$ if it was up all that period. If someone else bids 60¢ for 4 hours, your ad won’t be up, but you won’t be charged either. As soon as that other ad expires, your ad returns to the slot.
There are different size ads and thousands of sites available, though not all webcomics. You can even bid $0.00 and get some exposure on sites, though most bids are a few cents or more. The really popular strips, like Something Positive, get as much as $60.00 a day for their ad slots.
(And don’t forget, you can set up PW ad sites on your own strip and though you won’t get rich, the money that comes in can help pay for your own advertising.)
Finally, there are conventions. I haven’t explored this area too much, as there are few local cons, but this year and next I plan to travel to a few gatherings outside of Oklahoma.
One last piece of information: the Web Marketing Checklist. Not all of it is relevant to webcomcis, but it might give you a few ideas.
So get thee to it. Get your comic out there, promote the heck out of it, and enjoy the ride. There might even be a payoff at the end, but don’t get your hopes up. It will be so much sweeter if the payoff is icing rather than the cake.
I wish you all the best of luck.
Be here next Wednesday when the the blog returns with a new Occult Detective review
and, need I add, next Friday for the debut of Lovecraft is Missing Book 4: The Truth or Falsity of Our Beliefs.
Have a good weekend.