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New drawing, and my plans for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

This new colour drawing is a frontispiece for the next Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline. Like with the current one, I'll start it off with a cover drawing, then an introduction with some background info and a dedication, then the real story, plunging ahead at breakneck speed. The title of the story? The Green Knight's Belt. The titles of the stories after that? Alchemists, The Death Warrant, The New Sheriff, King's Drama. Why do I know all these titles in advance? Easy: they've all been in my files and in small-press print for a decade or more. Yes, I'll follow up the archival storyline I've been running since June with another bunch of archival storylines.

If you're an ROCR reader as opposed to someone who just drops by every once in a while to read ramblings about Doctor Who and all the other stuff my co-bloggers and I go on about, I suspect that this might not be the sort of announcement you'd be waiting for. To be honest, I have mixed feelings myself.

On the one hand, filling in the gaps in the online archives is something I'd have to do sooner or later, and this is probably the time. After finishing The Stone of Contention, I've begun weaning myself off regular webcomic production. It's actually very difficult, even a bit wrenching to get off that treadmill, but now that I've given myself a couple of months, I've begun to realise that I don't really want to go back. In mid-2000, when I posted the first few episodes of Guðrún, it was a relief to be working on my longest-running comic again. Five years on, it's not so exciting anymore, and the idea of forcing myself to stick to a deadline again, with little monetary reward, rushing pages into existence just so I wouldn't be late, doesn't exactly fill me with anticipation.
Also, I completed a graphic novel-length story. 370 pages, in colour, ending with the protagonist's near-apotheosis. How do you follow that? I have some ideas, actually, but I don't want to rush into another graphic novel-length project. I want to think about these ideas carefully, weed out the ones that aren't worth pursuing, and then properly develop those that are. Returning to a deadline would put a crimp on that approach, I'd say.

On the other hand, I'm committing myself for the better part of a year to republishing old work that is pretty crude in many respects. I'll never be up there with the great draughtsmen of comics - if I had that in me I would be there already, at my age - but I can draw decently as the picture above shows. The old stuff won't exactly be a glowing advertisement for my current art quality, and that's one reason I'm messing around with the extra illustrations. And... it's old. I've been asking a few readers here and there, and they tell me that if they haven't seen it, it's new to them, but it isn't to me. When I look at it, I see mostly embarrassing faults.

Bottom line, though, is that I don't want to get back on the treadmill. I'll want to draw those characters again, some time in the future, but I don't want to get back to producing comics that way, at that pace. I want to have more time for better-paid work, for experimental work, for improving myself as an artist and writer. I used to tell myself that regular production was an important part of that self-improvement, but I'm not so sure anymore. These days, I think I've learned a whole lot of bad habits over the past five years, which I'll have to get rid of first, if I'm to progress beyond where I am now.

Most webcartoonists, when they start feeling stagnant, demotivated or bothered by something, will take a hiatus, during which they don't publish anything on their websites for a while (a lucky few don't get this problem at all). I'm lucky here. I'll be able to go on running comics for a long time, and they'll all be comics that most readers won't have seen before and that will fill in important gaps in the background for the episodes that are online already. Indeed, I'm arguably more productive this way, considering that I'm also editing Chronicles of the Witch Queen and publishing my ancient Lives of X!Gloop comics.

Still, there's this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that that's all rationalisation, that I'm a fool for even contemplating this. I crave your commentary. After five years, I still don't really feel I know my readership well. There are hundreds of you, possibly more than a thousand if you include people reading at Modern Tales and through tooncasts. But few of you get in touch so a lot of the time I feel like I'm just working in a vacuum. I'm not exactly a market-driven cartoonist but I often wonder why you read and like my work, what aspect of the comic you're the most interested in, what you think of my unusual publishing decisions, what you'd like to see more of... you name it. (Forum requires registration but is trustworthy. reinder@despammed.com is also welcome)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 19, 2005 8:43 PM.

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