As an artist on the internet I’m stuck living in a world that most people don’t have to spend as much time in as I do simply as a requirement of my job. I’m sort of like Uatu the watcher in that I’m always on the sidelines of all these weird little communities, and never really get in to the ones I’m undeniably a part of. So I don’t really have many people to talk to about all the stuff I see. Since the comic isn’t normally gag a day I just sort of sit in my lair never getting dissect the ins and outs of this online culture. These out of continuity pages are like a little taste of a different kind of creative life.
I originally launched Between Failures as a gamer comic along the lines of CAD. The problem quickly became that I couldn’t make enough jokes about games because I didn’t have time to play them. Plus, I have a very narrow selection of games I enjoy and I tend to play single games extremely obsessively. Advance Wars isn’t the most fertile ground for jokes when you need them every day. Even now I’m only getting away with this because I have an audience built up who are invested in the things these specific characters are doing. If I tried to start off like this today it would be extremely difficult. Not only is it difficult to get traction, but there are so many more people who take webcomics seriously compared to when I started, and there were thousands of them back then. I got in at a moment where my tenacity allowed me to survive when every other aspect of my efforts weren’t up to code. Looking around today at new comics that start out day one with slick art is pretty rough for this old man. The thing that keeps me going is still my tenacity. When those beautiful comics don’t get attention right away, or not enough soon enough, the creators will give up. Life will get in their way and create an opportunity for me, or at the very least take out some competition.
As much as other artists will say that we’re all part of some grand community I rarely see it. What I see is the ebb and flow of competition vying for the finite attention of the finite audiences of the internet. That’s just the reality of life. In a world with finite resources you’ll always be in competition with someone or something. It’s pretty rough. Especially when you’re the foundation of the whole machine. That’s one of the only things I kind of miss about just being a wage slave. At the end of the day I was just a cog who had his little tasks to do. When I went home I didn’t have to worry about ad revenue or production costs, or anything to do with making sure the business was there when I got up the next day. Now it’s all me all the time. It’s pretty stressful. I’ve had more than one nervous breakdown over it all, but I just kept going. Over time you start to get used to it all. You adapt. Or you don’t, I guess. I adapted at any rate. I’m approaching 20 years of doing this and sometimes I look around and think “How the fuck did I keep this going for so long?” The bulk of the answer to that is I just got up and did it. Even when everything around me was trying to keep me from doing it, I did it anyway. It seems like my most useful skill might be just showing up for work.
Worth thinking about if you’re a creative person, or if you have some kind of crazy dream. I kept this whole mess going when on paper it really seems like it should have failed right away. You could live your dream too if you’re willing to give up enough.
Speaking of things I’ve given up, like my pride, let me remind you that you can support my work via patreon, or subscribestar, via the links above. Or you could just tell people who you think might like it who also have a lot of expendable income. There’s so many ways you could help. I’ve only listed two, but I’m sure there are other ways I just can’t think of. Maybe casting spells? I’m not against arcane support in any case.