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6 years of SHD-WK (or: Sorry Vincent, your 6 yrs are up ;P)

 
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ak-ryuu
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Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 1774
Location: Finland

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: 6 years of SHD-WK (or: Sorry Vincent, your 6 yrs are up ;P) Reply with quote

Today (Wednesday) it SHD-WK's 6th anniversary. Six years ago, on November 25, 2003, the first strip went online. Now six years later I'll use this as an excuse to start a thread on the forum with my jumbled thoughts that few people will ever read! :)

First things first:
* A huge thank you to the handful of people who have been reading since or almost since the beginning. I know some of you are still here after all this time (on the Internet, 6 years are pretty much an eternity) and that's quite amazing.
* A huge thank you to those of you who have been reading since the height of the comic's popularity (2006-2007) and are still here, despite the choices I made and the direction I took the comic. It's because of you I keep going even though circumstances sometimes make it difficult.
* A huge thanks to those of you who have started reading more recently, but found the story compelling enough to keep coming back twice a week. As long as somebody out there actually wants to read what I write, I have no good reason to stop updating completely as long as I can write and draw.
* I'm thankful too to everybody who stayed and read for a while, but left for whatever reason, be it because their interests changed, or that the direction of the story wasn't the one they wanted to see. But chances are you won't read me today ... Maybe you'll come back some day in the future and read the archives. Thanks!
* And a special thanks to those of you who joined the forum, be it for posting here (anybody left?) or just for reading!

Now, what else is on my mind ...


About the comic's popularity:

In the past, I've done quite a bit to advertise the comic, and for a while (about 2006-2007) it was actually quite popular. I scaled back those efforts at the same time and for the same reasons that I had to scale back updates from 4 times a week to twice a week, and popularity dwindled; reader numbers now are about 10% of what they were back then.
I don't mind, though; sometimes it actually scared me that so many people were reading, and I found myself thinking quite often, what if they don't like what I write? How do I write this so it won't alienate anyone? I got quite a bit of fanmail then (and some hate mail too :)), and sometimes I found it really overwhelming. I'm quite shy, you see. The first few months of putting the comic out there in 2003-2004, every single update made me nervous. Why then am I putting a comic (and not exactly one of high quality) out there for the world to see, you ask? One, to force myself to keep updating. Two, to give the story and characters <i>existence</i> beyond merely existing in my imagination. Now, they'll still be there when I'm not. They're out there to read about even when I don't talk about them. Maybe somebody is thinking about them even when I'm not. That alone is probably the greatest achievement I could ever hope to get from this.

Whoops, I lost track again :) What I wanted to say is, I'm happier with the comic being pretty much unknown now than I was when it was "semi-famous". It's much less stressful ;) That means I won't run any advertisement campaigns for this anniversary like I did in previous years, I probably won't even bother to point out the anniversary on comicspace or any other of the few comic network sites I'm a member of. (Networking or advertising really isn't my thing, anyway ...)

I'm sad about the forums being pretty much dead, but I guess that's something I can't do much about (I've tried in the past, but I guess I'll stop that too). They're here if you want to write, and are the fastest way to contact me about the comic and get feedback. (They're also here if you only want to read, but if nobody writes that's a bit boring :))


About the upcoming break:

The current plan (not set in stone yet) is to pause the comic for 3 months, August 2010 to October 2010. #920 would go online July 30, and I'd resume with #921 on November 2. The reasons for this: After six years I need a break; I need some time to step back and rethink things and think about how to get the story to its conclusion (we're about halfway there, I think); I need some time away from the comic to recharge my creative batteries (in six years, I've hardly drawn anything else) and to hopefully escape becoming completely stagnant (let's face it, my meager art skills haven't really been improving anymore - and I'm rarely trying). Whether the break will really help things, I do not know; I hope it does. Whether anyone will stay if I don't update for 3 months, I don't know either - I hope you will. I'll be posting on the forums in the meantime, and I'll hope some of you would join me. Anyway, that's still 9 months away - but I hope with the date fixed now, I'll manage to "hang in there" until then ;)


About the significance of today's date:

When I started the comic on November 25, 2003, I decided that it would be the same date in the comic (November 25, year 03 of an unspecified century); and it would be Vincent's 20th birthday (and Spiky's birthday, too). I had some hope that I would manage to run the comic somewhat parallel to real time, and I already knew that the comic was supposed to cover six years - until Vincent's 26th birthday. If it had turned out like that, the comic would have ended today. If he were real, he would not live with the curse anymore today (well, once the hour of his birth has passed) - one way or the other. (Yes, I know how it will end. No, I won't tell :))


Was this my longest post ever? Did anyone actually READ this? :)
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Negation



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 1455
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First things first, congratulations on the 6th anniversary. That's really long time to be constantly doing writing, drawing and publishing the comic. If I were to do something like that, I probably would have quit before Vincent got back from the mountains first time ;)

849 comics online so far, that's like 3396 little panels (more or less, some comics had more than 4 and some had less). You must have gone through huge stack of drawing supplies in order to produce that much.

Currently I think that Spiky is my favourite character and it has been interesting to follow her journey with Vincent. The story of Vincent is what carries the comic forward, but it's also interesting to see how somebody coming outside of the society sees things. So I'm hoping we get to see Vincent and Spiky to adventure for a long time still.

Yes, that was your longest post ever (at least of those that I remember) and yes, at least I read it through ;)
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TheOtherDibbler



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 274
Location: Australia!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CONGRATULATIONS ON SIX YEARS!!
*confetti and streamers*

And of course I read that. I know I'm not on the forum as much as I used to be (or any webcomic forums I used to frequent), but I wasn't going to miss such an important milestone as this one.

You deserve to have a break (seriously, after six years? A lot of people would have given up ages ago) and I can see no reason why I'd stop reading at that point. Especially as you're giving us plenty of warning. You're always thinking of your readers and your story and making an effort to work things out in a way that is best for everyone involved, and I really respect that. I've read comics where the artist would suddenly go on hiatus with no warning, or try to push themselves too hard and wind up burning out and hating their comic. I've seen unexpected hiatuses start as 'We'll be back soon!' with no clue given as to when, and stay that way for months with no word and then finally admit that they're permanent. I know you won't do this, and if something happens that means you have to halt the comic unexpectedly, I know you'll have a very good reason and that you'll tell us up front that something has happened and you have to stop.

As for why I read the comic. Like Negation, I read for the story of Vincent and the character interactions. Sure, your comic isn't the prettiest out there but your characters are more complex than they appear at first, and they learn and change and struggle and the reader can relate to them. Like the recent events with Roland's attack showed, there are many different motivations for doing something and very different, but equally valid, opinions on what is the 'right' course of action, and this is something you explore in your comic. Your characters aren't 'cookie cutter characters', they're complex and realistic and it is often difficult for the reader to forsee how they will react in given circumstances, and this is what keeps me coming back. I care about your characters and I want to see what they will do and how this will all end. I've dropped much prettier looking comics in the past because they lacked this quality. So as long as you're telling the story of Vincent, Spiky and Co. there will be at least some of us still reading.


And I didn't mean to get quite so long-winded. :P

I know it's days too late to say 'Enjoy your anniversary!' But I hope you did enjoy it and that you have a nice weekend. :)
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ak-ryuu
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheOtherDibbler wrote:
And I didn't mean to get quite so long-winded. :P

I did read it all! ;P Thanks for reminding me why I'm doing this, and proving that I manage to do exactly what I'm trying to. And you said it much better than I could have, too :)

TheOtherDibbler wrote:
I know it's days too late to say 'Enjoy your anniversary!'

Also, "anniversary" is such a tainted word around here, it seems like something that shouldn't be used on the same line with "Enjoy" ;P

TheOtherDibbler wrote:
But I hope you did enjoy it and that you have a nice weekend. :)

But yeah, I did, like any of the milestones. When I started back then and the original plan was that the story would run for 6 years real time, ending this week, I was not at all convinced that I would make it, or even make it halfways there, or even make it to #100, but I did make it all the way here. Now I'm just hoping I'll also manage to finish the story (by, say, 2018 or so ;)).
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Only awerewolf on tuesday



Joined: 24 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not in an especially wordy mood at the moment, but congratz and I know I'll be back for the 2nd of November.
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ak-ryuu
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only awerewolf on tuesday wrote:
Not in an especially wordy mood at the moment, but congratz and I know I'll be back for the 2nd of November.

You make it sound a bit like the hiatus starts now. Just to be clear, it doesn't ... there will still be comics until August 2010 first ;)
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Alex



Joined: 26 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, yes, let me give you that obligatory congratulations and thank yous on our comic. Hopefully I'll be able to actually read all those strips O-o
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Rainaari



Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 602
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy belated Birthday!
(whom to adress this to? Vincent, the comic, Spiky, the author, whoever..?) it sure has been a while. And yeah, i read the whole post :P

Being reminded that this is a closed story and we are about halfway through, brings a small tear to my eyes. Vincent has become (not a compagnon but..) some daily or semi-daily fellow. Knowing that this time with him will be limited is sad.

I hope your health will get better and you can manage a steady rythm of updates after your break. Good luck!
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TheOtherDibbler



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, "anniversary" is such a tainted word around here, it seems like something that shouldn't be used on the same line with "Enjoy" ;P
It took me a moment to get that. *facepalm* Good point though. :P
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LadyAxum



Joined: 07 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy very belated anniversary.

I really do enjoy your comic. As others have said your characters are very complex. And if it takes till 2018 to finish the story then that's how long I'll be reading it.

You are very considerate of your readers and while I'm sad that i will have to wait a few months for the story to continue, if you think its the right choice then it is the right choice. I hope that the break helps you how you want it to help.

I only ask (and maybe I'm horribly greedy for asking) that if by some chance you are unable to finish the comic (though given your dedication so far it would surprise me), that you do tell us how it ends. Its a great story and deserves to be told.
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StormCloud



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still reading. :-)

I generally read the strip through my LJ friends page, so it's not often I come directly to the site or the forum. That being said, I do occasionally, obviously. :-7

Happy belated anniversary, and congrats on sticking to it and keeping those strips coming, through hell, high water and crappy health - that's no mean achievement. The trial sequence is quite gripping, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that develops.

I know you didn't ask for suggestions, but I'll throw one in anyway coz I'm helpful like that: during your "sabbatical", if you want to do something to recharge your artistic batteries and improve your drawing, I strongly recommend life drawing. Not necessarily classes - if you can find some helpful soul who is willing to drape themselves over your household furniture and let you sketch them, that's all you need. I did a bunch of lifedrawing sessions once with a group of art student friends who clubbed together to hire models for the purpose, and the end result was amazing! Just dedicating a couple of hours every week or so to life drawing - lots of little 15-minute sketches of folk posed in various ways - really enriched my understanding of how bodyparts fit together, how they look different when viewed from various angles, and how flesh shifts and adjusts under gravity when angled in different ways. It's very different to drawing from photo references, and I found it made a huge difference to my figure drawing. Spend a bit of time life drawing, and I bet you'll find your creative batteries all topped up again before you know it.

Anyway, good luck with your strip, and here's hoping that you find your sabbatical restful and recharging, whatever you choose to do with it. I may not post much, but I am still reading SHD-WK, and will likely do so until you finish it. Thanks for creating it!
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ak-ryuu
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi StormCloud (and I do remember you ;))

StormCloud wrote:
I know you didn't ask for suggestions, but I'll throw one in anyway coz I'm helpful like that: during your "sabbatical", if you want to do something to recharge your artistic batteries and improve your drawing, I strongly recommend life drawing.

Yeah, that was actually the plan. I haven't had time or energy for life drawing in ages (and it really shows :( ..).

Seems though that sadly I'll need all of the "sabbatical" to refill my buffer instead, since my crappy health has been even crappier lately. I'll do my best to keep the story continuing, but I don't have much hope at this moment that I'll manage to make any art-wise improvements :/
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LadyAxum



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't have much hope at this moment that I'll manage to make any art-wise improvements :/


While i can understand wanting to improve your art, I would say that I am less concerned with "SUPER AWESOME ART" than i am with a good story. This tale has me constantly checking up for updates not because of the art (while it is better than i could do cuz i suck at drawing) but because of the compelling story. i know of web comics that spend weeks or months to get out perfect art and frankly i wish they publish more often. Of course you should update as you feel comfortable, and in the end its all up to you, but please don't berate yourself because your arn't making "giant strides in your art technique". Your story is AWESOME and i cant wait to see the rest of the tale.
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Only awerewolf on tuesday



Joined: 24 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh. I'm studing Games Design, and we have a drawing elective. My art has come on leaps and bounds and alot of that's been due to life drawing. In fact, I'm to the point where you might get some fan art from me soon (no promises).
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