My, it's been over half a year since I've written a news post. Time for a summary of this first year as a full time webcomic operation.
A year ago, I set out with the intention to come back to Exvulnerum full time and stick to a strict MWF upload schedule. I'm proud to say that I met my goal. There were a few missed updates during the year, but I made them all up, and so I ended up uploading a full 155 new pages this year!
It was not without its difficulties. Even with 2014's trial runs, I wasn't able to properly predict just how hard it would be to draw 4 pages every week. Or how much of a pain it would be to work on Saturdays. Or how little free time would be left over to recharge for more drawing. It was quite the challenging marathon, and it wore me down a little... There were definitely low points in motivation, and my buffer--which started out at 20 pages and peaked at 24--is now at a single page. I did overestimate my abilities; I was certain that I would meet my goal with plenty of breathing room.
Instead, and unfortunately, I'm going to have to scale back a little in 2016 just to regroup and make sure the comic stays on the right path. I need to fill up my buffer again. I need to work on the scripts, because chapter 5's isn't even finished (and uploads-wise, we're near the end of chapter 4.) I need to work on the overall plot summary, which I haven't even touched in months... I just really, really need some time to get things back on track, and so the end of the year couldn't have come at a better time.
Therefore, I am going to switch Exvulnerum updates from "MWF" to "Mondays only" for the time being. Yes, it kind of stinks. No, it won't be permanent. My intention is to return to 3x weekly uploads as soon as I feel comfortable with where the back end of the comic (and my life) is. The comic will continue in the meantime (just, slower), and I have no plans to ever give up on it. I want to put all the effort I can into making this a Big Thing. I still believe that it will be. (If you're new here, go back a handful of news posts to the one titled "Current Status" to hear more about that.)
But aside from all of the numbers and planning and goal setting, I think the thing that most stands out about this year is all of you. Words cannot express how happy and grateful I am that people enjoy reading my story. Unlike last year, I do actually have a modest readership now (my estimates range from 150 to 300 people; it's hard to tell exactly), and even such a small number feels amazing. Better than that, though, is the amount of people who comment regularly (or even just once with something encouraging)--that really, really makes all of the long hours and lack of pay worth it for me. The pageviews, the comments, the TWC votes, the community here... I can't be more thankful, guys, YOU ARE AMAZING!!
As a little thanks, I've put up most of this year's voting incentives up on my deviantART account, which you can view here. It's not much, but it's all I have time for during this hectic holiday season.
I am taking one week off for the new year, so Exvulnerum uploads will resume Monday, January 11th. We'll finally get back to Amber and Evey!
May all credit for any good that I've done go to God. And have a safe and happy new year, everybody!!
Posted on December 30, 2015.
5 Year Anniversary
Well, it's the first of May again, and that means that today marks the day in 2010 that I started working on this comic thing!
Last year, on Exvulnerum's 4th anniversary, the comic only had 50 pages. Today, a year later, I've more than doubled that total. And next year, as long as things go according to plan, I'll be at 250+ pages total. Those numbers will tell the story; Exvulnerum started out as a side project but has since ramped up into a full time operation.
One year ago, I began to get the idea and and feel the desire to start making this a priority. I spent a few months mulling it over, decided in August to give full time webcomicking a shot, and then spent a few more months preparing. In January, I had the Enterprise Launch, and have since spent the majority of my time drawing, writing, planning, coding, and thinking about Exvulnerum or Exvulnerum's website.
Looking back on all the work I've done makes me incredibly proud of myself. No, I don't have the best or longest comic on the net, and no, I'm not the greatest artist or writer. But if years are measured in progress, then this last one has been golden. I've really, really come a long way. From being perfectionistic and procrastinating to being determined and regular. From being sickly afraid of people rejecting my comic to shrugging at the people who quit reading and honestly feeling okay with that because I know my comic does have merit regardless. From having vague ideas and notions about characters and events, chapters and themes, to having concrete conceptions I'm seeing converge into a story I hope readers will find satisfying on multiple levels. From picking up the pen and struggling to get my main characters looking right to sincerely enjoying drawing them as I gradually get better at my craft. If this is the progress that can be made in a single year, I eagerly anticipate the things that will unfold as the decade rolls by. As always, in every good thing that has happened, I give credit to God.
And I'm happy right now, very happy. Making a comic is nothing to sneeze at and requires so much hard work and attention... but that's okay because being a storyteller is a fulfilling job. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to pursue this.
Thank you for reading, and if you'd like to celebrate this 5 year thing, then I would be so grateful if you would share this comic with friends! Just say, "Hey check out this weird yet entertaining 5 year old." That is not false advertising at all.
Posted on May 1, 2015.
More Layout Stuff!
After I made the small changes from the last news post, I realized that more needed to be done. I decided to completely revamp the layout and wire it so that reading was made easy and fun on mobile devices. Thanks to an awesome CSS template I found, I was able to do so rather painlessly. There were a few hiccups, though, but Ariel helped me iron things out and was generally just a ton of help.
I also should mention that I started advertising Exvulnerum on other sites via the (sometimes) paid service Project Wonderful. This has brought in a great number of pageviews and hopefully a few new dedicated readers. Unfortunately, due to a couple of violent pages in this comic, I must rate this site as NSFW according to Project Wonderful's guidelines. This limits me from advertising on many sites I would like to, so I'm running into a bit of trouble with focusing on my target audience (I don't think Exvulnerum will really have a NSFW type of reader demographic). It's not a big deal right now, though, and I'm just happy to get more exposure.
I wanted to go into detail on both of these subjects, but I have to finish some lineart, ahaha, so that's all for now.
Posted on April 20, 2015.
I've been monitoring pageviews for a while, and I've noticed that there seems to be an unusually high proportion of people who get to the comic's home page but stop there without clicking anything else.
Good web design dictates that you should strive to make it so that the user doesn't have to click a lot of times to get to the content they want. Most other webcomics take advantage of this rule by putting their latest or first page straight on the home page. When I first designed this website, I decided to be more subtle and instead only have a thumbnail of the latest page. This would allow users to see a visual cue of the most recent update and also allow for a large "New Reader? Click Here" button. I regarded this as a good compromise in design, both showing the potential reader a slice of the current content while also shielding them from needless spoilers and providing them an easy avenue to start at the beginning.
However, in the light of the current pageview statistics, I decided to change things to the more traditional webcomic tactic: put the full-size latest update unencumbered on the home page. Hopefully this will snag those readers who turn away too soon.
This means that I've removed the news section from the front page, but you can always access these updates via the "News" link in the menu. If there is an important one I want everybody to see, I'll probably mention it in the RSS feed and/or page comments.
Since I was changing stuff around, I also replaced the top banner with something smaller. Hopefully this will also improve the overall user experience.
Here's hoping that the new readers start rolling in now, haha.
Posted on April 10, 2015.
I wanted to post a summary of where I'm at right now. Since I don't think I've said it here yet, I wanted to talk a little bit about the long-term shape and goals of this comic.
First of all, Exvulnerum has a very long plot. My tendency in fiction is to favor epic sagas with room for a lot of character development and interaction, and so I like things lengthy. It's no surprise that that's what I end up writing. I am aware of the pitfalls of this and the advantages of concise storytelling, and so I'm trying to keep an eye on the length of my scripts and chapters, but even at its shortest, most abridged telling, Exvulnerum is still long. My plot summary document where I keep track of the plot is already the length of a small novel. And that's a summary. A summary with lots of details still to be decided upon and filled in.
It would be a daunting challenge to write a book series of this story, but the effort required is multiplied when you attempt to illustrate everything as I am doing. A scene in which a couple short seconds pass by might be described in ten minutes' worth of writing; it would take hours to do so when you're drawing a full-color comic page. Therefore this comic is going to be an incredibly challenging task to finish. I can only hope that a few years down the road, I am able to hire a small team of artists to help me with the production of pages to get the plot moving at a faster rate. Or better yet, that I somehow gain magic powers that allow me to slow down time and churn out multiple pages in one day. That would be so sweet.
I write this in the hope that visitors to this site and readers of the comic gain an understanding of how big and important Exvulnerum is to me. I hope it's clear how seriously I take this. I hope it's clear how much work this project actually demands--so that everyone will know that this is a major part of my life, and I intend to give it my full attention. I committed at the end of last year to one full year of 3x weekly uploads, and I still intend to carry that out barring physical incapability. And at the end of that obligation, if I deem that the effort is worth it like I think it is, I will continue the story for probably a decade or more--because it needs that long.
I want to say that even though this project is large and daunting and sometimes scary (especially when I realize how much of a novice I am at drawing comics), I am doing my best to fully enjoy the process. Even though I have the plot planned out to its climax, conclusion, ending, and beyond, I am going to focus on the chapters and pages here and now and do my best to make them as enjoyable as they are beneficial to the plot. I want my readership to have fun reading what I consider the very early chapters of this story and to feel like its worth their time. I'm getting better at that, and learning more all the time, and so I hope that I do possess the tools and drive for success in this webcomics world--and that I earn the full support of Exvulnerum's fans.
I am so excited for my readers to see all that I have planned. I can't wait until we really get into the magic and start answering some questions and finally introduce the other members of the cast. As long as God gives me my measure of opportunity to continue, it is going to be a blast!
Thanks for readin' the news section.
Posted on April 7, 2015.
So This Happened
Last week, I had a close encounter with death. Actual death like, "Whoa I wonder why Exvulnerum never updates anymore" because the author is DEAD death.
I am totally okay now, and I've been dutifully uploading pages, and things are starting to return to normalcy, but...
The event in question (which I am not going to go into detail on) took it's toll a little bit, and although I feel and know that I'm gonna be alright, my body is still reacting to the stress and is very tired. I just want to sleep... a looot.
I'm not depressed or anything, and if anything I'm more sure than ever that I want to continue work on the comic, but I need to take care of myself too, so even though I had a week off last week, I'm going to take it easy this week too and let myself rest as much as I need to.
This will have absolutely no effect on the current update schedule thanks to my buffer, but the buffer page count is going in the wrong direction now (down). So if--and that's an IF--this does end up causing some sort of problems, they won't arise here on the front-end of things for many weeks. And if that happens, I just wanted to chronicle the situation here so that I can, in the future, if need be, point back to this and say, "That's the rascal that messed up my buffer. Direct your tomatoes at it."
No, I really do think it'll be okay... I'm just not going to have as much scheduled vacation time as I thought I was gonna get this year, sigh.