In case you didn’t know – here is the latest scoop on the webcomic. I apologize for the delays, the restarts and all the cancer. My bad.
To all my readers – all 5 of you. (Kidding… I know there’s more than that) I’ve been having a ton of fun creating El Cuervo, and it makes me glad to see that there are a number of people out there who appreciate the comic and have been following along. Seeing as this is my first year as an official webcomic artist or cartoonist, you’ve probably figured out that there have been a bunch of hiccups and errors that have arisen since the site appeared on April 1st of 2010.
Your first year is usually one filled with experiments, expressions and education. I completely agree. El Cuervo has pushed me to become more observant and detailed in my approaches to art, but it has also given me the ability to focus on structure during production.
Now that I’ve figured out how to get a good rhythm going, I’ve noticed two fatal flaws. The first is time – As much as I’d love to produce a 5 page Episode each week (and I’ve been doing so since August), I don’t think it’s physically possible to continue at this pace without burning myself out and wrecking everything I’ve built so far.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to deliver content in a timely fashion, and how to keep reader interest through the longform method of an OGN (Online Graphic Novel) – but instead of trying to be a bit of a trailblazer, I think I may need to simplify and be more efficient within my own means. So I’ve decided to scale back to the page a day format. The good news is, I can update over a number of days during the week (optimistically – 5 days a week, to as low as 1-2 updates per week) and still keep new content pouring out in a constant trickle – rather than a one day flood.
The reasons aren’t only due to lack of time – it also has a lot to do with site indexing and pageviews. It seems the 5 page format does not play well with site tracking software that indexes pages. This means Google doesn’t see my Episodes as 5 pages – it sees it as just one, and other webcomics portals and listings sites only view my site based on the first page of each episode. In addition to that, a number of readers have commented on the clunkiness of the navigation and how it doesn’t seem to make sense. I’ve attempted to simplify it, but I’ve grown tired of trying to explain it and make it work.
No sense in recreating the wheel – a page a day – going forward continues the story, going backwards brings you to the previous page. On the plus side, in a traditional print format, the book reads page after page anyway – so there’s no real loss in flow.
Now – the second flaw I’ve noticed is consistency. I’ve missed updates, and that’s not a good thing. Sometimes it is intentional, in order to make sure the pages and story connect the way I want them to – other times it has been due to author errors. Either way, when an update is missed, readers get annoyed. I’m hoping this time around I can rebuild a solid posting pattern that can carry me through the next year.
Consistency is also necessary in the artists work – I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but the style of the comic has evolved to a point where I’m tremendously happy with the end result. This means a lot of the earlier pages are not up to snuff with my vision of the story, and sadly – need to be redone.
So why am I giving the comic the George Lucas treatment? Well, to be honest, El Cuervo was really started as an experiment – now that I see how the experiment is working, I realize I should have prepared better. That is all hindsight – but when it comes to print material, I don’t want a large discrepancy in the later half of the book in comparison to the start of the book – therefore, I’m redoing the pages and panels in certain pages in order to keep all of the style consistent.
Here’s an example. (Clicky Clicky for Biggie Biggie)
On the left is the original page two – on the right is the more photo-realistic approach I wanted the comic to have.
Since Chapter 2, I’ve relied heavily on photo reference for building the imagery within El Cuervo. There are a number of pages which don’t follow the format, and that really bugs me – I’m sure it’s plenty distracting for the rest of you who are reading the story.
Here’s the plan – over the next few weeks, I will be redoing a number of the previous pages from past chapters and we will move forward in a single page update until infinity. Check your RSS feeds and Twitter feeds for the Redux pages. As I complete them, I will post them.
Such is the life of the unsatisfied artist – we never know when to quit. This time, I swear it’s going to stay as is. I was trying to make this an easier experience for reading, but I’ve failed at that. I promise 2011 won’t be as confusing and more consistent.
Thanks for you patience and understanding.