And so ends chapter 4
I consider it a mercy killing, really, but this comic came out better than i expected.
I sat down and re-read chapter 4, slowly, yesterday to get a feel for the whole thing again. Overall, i think its not bad. It has some gems, it has some real duds. Some things worked great, some things didn't and im still trying to work my way out of them. Considering what kind of year it was, i think it came along ok.
Part of the problem with chapter 4 stems from the fact that i spent most of the year fighting some pretty serious real life problems - mainly issues regarding my former publisher, trying to establish things so i could stay alive and support myself, finding a new publisher, jump starting things and getting book 2 out the door, a LOT of traveling... it was a busy, stressful year. Sure, if i were perfect i would have balanced things better, right? Well, i did the best i could.
Now, that said, i still think Chapter 4 isn't that bad. It has some lulls, some bad comics, but some really good stuff too. A lot has happened. The prob with the end of this chapter is that there were SO many storylines and threads that were converging that i''ve had to spend more time pulling them down and closing up loose ends than being able to coordinate comics the way i might have liked. It's sorta like having too many sounds playing at once, and things get saturated, resulting in static.
The humor layer has suffered because, well... for a good part of the year i just didn't feel like anything was funny. Stress will do that to you. The past few months, ever since things settled out and i found a new home with Dark Horse, things have been much better - the bad stress turned to happy stress, i guess you could say. I feel tons better, much more secure, much more stable, but its been a sprint to try to get caught up. So much energy was spent on the problems that was a waste.
Anyways, im always reviewing what im doing, and i too have some issues with some things that are missing in MT - you aren't the only one. The problem is, a comic with a story is like a big boat - you cant just suddenly change direction - you have to turn the wheel and make the directional changes that might not fully take effect for weeks or months - it takes time. I am doing comics now that are the results of decisions i made at the beginning of the year - only experience can teach you what works and what doesn't. The best solution is to tweak things and make them better - thats what i usually try to do, sometimes i succeed, sometimes i fail. It's hard to see the whole picture until you go back and look at where you are at.
One thing i've always felt is that i started MT by experimenting a lot, and if you have noticed, i continue to do that. I could have easily stuck to a shtick and did it over and over again. Prob with that is that sometimes when you do something well, its hard to come up with new things that work equally as well. You are always compared against your earlier work. It's very frustrating For instance, Largo is a hard character to develop - people used to bitch and moan at me that he was too shallow and insane and they were tired of his random behavior. What would you think if he did nothing but spout l33t all day? Ya, i'd kill him off real quick too. :P I worked in a path of behavior for him - much more cause and effect, and less randomness -- now you people whine that there isn't any randomness. Geeze, people, make up your minds. :P
In the end, you have to follow your own nose. You people read MT because you want to read the story im writing. I dont think you want to read something that is assembled by committee and geared to try to hit all the market segments just right - hollywood does that better than i ever could, so i'll stick to my way. It doesn't mean i dont listen or think hard about what i am doing, but it just means that i want to do the best job i can, and that requires a hard to define mix of listening and not listening Give people a lot of what they want, and a whole lot of what they dont know they want.
Honestly, i feel that as a whole, chapter 4 is the worst chapter i've done so far. It has parts of it, segments of it that are really good, but as a whole, it simply doesnt work. This comes from lack of planning, lack of time spent on the comic itself... honestly, with all the crap that i was dealing with while chapter 4 was in progress, i'm amazed it's readable. By the time i was clear of many of the problems plaguing me last year, Chapter 4 was already a mess, and there was little i could do to clear things up but finish the chapter and move on. The 'excessive detail' in the early chapters comes from what happens when you are in the midst of other problems - you stall, you aren't ready to move on, you just stay in one place (story wise) for one more strip because you havent had time to think things thru to the next. Good planning can avoid this. Chapter 4 had no planning, and it shows.
Now, you wanna know what i think about where i am at right now? There is a lot wrong. Chapter 4 was developed under a lot of stress and problems - if you must know, i am very very unappy with chapter 4. by the time i was able to get clear of the disasters surrounding things, and was able to look at the chapter, i found that it was already a disaster. I have simply been bringing everything down, pulling things together as best i can, skipping a lot of things that i would have like to have done, and worked to getting to the end of it. Since i am not a professional writer, i don't have enough experience to know when i overdo things - i tried to do too much in chapter 4, and it got away from me, pure and simple.
I'm doing the best i can to pull it together and finish it up. yeah, it's not great, but it's a lot easier to see faults with what you are doing than it is to fix them. Sometimes, all you can do is the best you can do. I am doing that. Sorry, i can't do better.