|Here ends chapter 5.
Now I have a painful announcement to make. As of chapter 6, Crimson Dark will only be updating once a week.
This has not been an easy decision to make, in fact it has weighed heavily on my mind for some weeks now. If it were possible to make thoughts physically manifest, then Iíd look a bit like Wiley Coyote with an anvil on his head (moments before a large bump grows out of his scalp, knocking the anvil asideÖ thatís where the analogy breaks down). As grateful as I am for everybody's donations, advertising money and calendar purchases, I'm simply not earning enough to live on. In fact, I'd say I'm earning less than 10% of the bare minimum I need to pay rent and bills.
I knew from the beginning that I would be appealing to a niche market with Crimson Dark. The vast majority of the people I meet in real life have never even heard of "webcomics" before, and I made my life even more difficult by making my work serialised, sci-fi and 3D. I sometimes feel that I should have written it all in Latin, just to square the deal. I knew that I would never have as many readers as Penny Arcade or PVP Online, but I didnít care because I have a story to tell and I want to tell it my way.
I am delighted by the loyalty of my readers, their dedication and ardour, and Iím not about to scoff at over 18,000 unique visitors per week (according to Google Analytics). I am incredibly pleased by the success of the comic, and it has done tremendous things to pull me out of the mire of chronic depression and low self-esteem which was making my life suck on so many levels. If it were possible I would be updating every day.
But the fact remains that my readership seems to have reached a plateau of late, with no increase in numbers for many weeks now (and, if anything, something of a decline). I know that artists/writers arenít supposed to care about that sort of thing, but we do. It has become painfully clear that if I am to get off this government pension then I am going to need to retrain and get back into the work force, which means that the comic must suffer.
I have already announced my plans to begin full-time study next year, specifically a Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment majoring in Game Design (Iíll let you know if the course is as cool as it soundsÖ but Iím not sure that anything can actually be that cool). From what Iíve seen and heard about the course, it is very intense and I know for certain that I will not be able to maintain a twice-weekly update schedule. To be honest, Iím not even certain that I will be able to maintain a weekly update schedule, which is why Iím changing now so that I will have all of January to build up as much of a buffer as possible. and so that I will be able to focus on my studies for the rest of the first trimester without compromising on the quality of the comic. I refuse to become one of those webcartoonists who is always missing deadlines, or only updates ďWhen I get around to itĒ.
I cannot understate how difficult this is for me. I have a story to tell, and you want to hear it. As relationships go, thatís almost as precious to me as family. Iím sorry. All I can do is ask for your continuing patience, and again promise that you will get to hear the full story, even if one day I need to abandon the webcomic format in order to tell it (shadow puppets, anyone?).
Iím going to take a couple of weeks off now, ostensibly for the holidays but really because Iíve still got a lot of work to do before Iím ready to start rendering panels for the next chapter. Chapter 6 will begin with a title page on Monday, the 31st December (New Yearís Eve), and will update every Monday after that. Between now and then, I will be uploading bonus pages (Iíve decided to stop calling them ďfillerĒ. If Iíve learned one thing from seven seasons of The West Wing, itís that words have power, and you should never miss an opportunity to make cardboard sound like chocolate).
Have a wonderful holiday, drive safely, enjoy some cricket and don't forget that Christmas is nothing without Easter.