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Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:42 am
by Counterclockwise
Let's take a quick poll of his current forum-active readership, right?

Surely there can't be that few of us?

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:18 pm
by mouse
i hope you do keep "bruno" going, ian, because i really enjoy the strip - which is a selfish reason, but there you are.

i know the forum has gotten quiet - for me, it's partly because i'm a lot busier than i used to be - and also because, unfortunately, something like forum decay does feed on itself - as there are fewer people here, there is less for me to respond to, so i don't post. i don't think the start was really your fault, ian - as i recall, there was some time when the keen boards were having major technical difficulties, and i think a lot of people just got disgusted with dealing with that.

take a break, clear your head, and come back! you are a good cartoonist; i think it must be self-promotion skills. unfortunately, i have none myself, so i don't know what to tell you. maybe you can find a mentor out there, somewhere - someone successful, who can give you some advice? as far as i know, there aren't that many web toonists who manage to make a stand-alone living from their strips - pete abrams is about the only one i can think of, offhand.

whatever you do - good luck, and be well.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:45 am
by mage9669

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:52 am
by mage9669
I too would say don't give up. You are a very talented and conscientious cartoonist who has not only made me laugh more than any other cartoonist on the web, but you also make me THINK more.

I hope to see you back at the drawing table very soon.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:14 pm
by Bickendan
Ian, I'm calling bullshit.
You're a damn fine cartoonist and I think any of us would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would disagree. And if they did, it'd be obvious they have no taste :D

That said, your announcement is somewhat disappointing because Bruno is one of the finer strips out there -- not only in terms of artistic style, but in terms of cultural relevance. To see Bruno languish and even (dare I say) possibly die is disheartening. While you don't owe us readers anything, I do think you have more loyal readers than you think. You even have a page on TV Tropes.

If I may, I think a series of Guest Weeks or Reader Q&A strips are needed. You've done guest strips for both El Goonish Shive and Sluggy (not to mention the entire Meanwhile Dimension of Pain/Agony arc!); have Pete and Dan return the favor. Get in touch with other artists -- R.K. Milholland (Something Positive), Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content) and Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) have all done guest spots at some point or another -- and hell, sometimes referencing their works (however offhand it'd have to be to fit in the Brunoverse) in your strips will get them to link to Bruno.
Reader Q&A: Fiona answers fan questions about anything in the strip (within reason, of course).

Take your break, Ian. We're not giving up on Bunkleyutz.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:11 pm
by cafeeine
Hey Ian.
As a constant reader of the strip, if not active participant in the forum, I would also like to express my sympathy for your dismay. I can honestly say I do not recall a single Bruno story that has disappointed me, both in terms of art or in storyline.

In addition to echoing Bickendan's good advice, I would also suggest you take a look at some of the other successful online strips. Perhaps the daily strip format just doesn't work for you anymore, look into different ways of producing.

You mention in your Tribune " I'm just not that good... either at cartooning, or self-promotion, or both." I, and the rest of the people who have followed your work for years, can attest that you are that good at cartooning, so I think the problem lies in the latter category.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:06 pm
by Bickendan
I don't even think it falls under the latter problem. Ian, hate to say it, but it may be depression talking. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.

As far as promoting Bruno, we have to get you to cons. That may mean homework for us readers. If we're going to get Ian to a con (and I'm assuming you've the needed credentials to come state-side), we need to get him to one that's willing to pay air fare and lodging and not charge him admission.
Stolen from Something Positive's FAQ:
Q: So, if I'm running/representing a con and want you to come and talk/run a game/declaw catgirls, what's considered helping you "get here"?
A: Just a few things.

1. First off, direct all correspondence to There is a bare-bones contract I now require conventions to sign. There are no "I demand green M&Ms" clauses - it's all basically the same stuff here, plus stuff on safety, what I'm expected to do for the con, maintaining schedules, etc.

It should be noted that this contract is required for all conventions that want me to attend as a guest or panelist of any form. I will not list your convention on my site or make any announcement of my attendance until the contract has been returned, signed.

The contract must be returned no later than one month before the convention's start date. If this is a last minute guest invite and one month is impossible, the deadline will be two weeks before the convention's start date. There will be no exceptions to this.
2. Free admission to the con (yes, you'd think this was obvious, but I've been invited to cons as a guest and they still expected me to pay to get in. What's more impressive is they were shocked I turned them down).
3. Helping to cover travel expenses. The closer the con is to where I live (outside Boston), the more willing I am to shoulder the burden. So far, however, only two cons within an hour of me has invited me as a guest, and the first one didn't intend on giving me free entry (see point 1).
4. Helping to cover room and board expenses. And, no, I will not sleep on the couch of some guy in your Scifi club. Yes, this makes me sound like a dick to a lot of people. I don't care. I'm edgy around people I don't know, and damned if I'm going to stay in their home.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:55 am
by kmd
Hi! I know, I know, long time, no see. Between the birth of my son, and GPF leaving Keenspot, I just don't participate on any forums anymore, no time. But! I do still read BtB, and I've got to agree with what people here are saying. Ian, it's certainly not lack of cartooning skills! Your artistic skills are top-notch! Just because a webcomic is "successful"(and in this instance I am using success as "able to support the artist full-time") doesn't mean it's got the best art. I mean, frankly, look at User Friendly. The art is no great shakes. Sluggy is better, but certainly not "best", and what about XKCD? Fer cryin' out loud, it's stick figures, with incredibly awesome writing! I used to think it took incredible art skills to be successful as a webcartoonist. And then I thought, no, it must be great writing. And then I went with "charisma of the artist/ability to promote one's work". And now I think I know the true secret, why some webcartoonists have made it big, and some have languished. As in most things in this world, it takes some skill, some determination, and a big heapin' helping of pure dumb luck.

If you feel you need to slow down on BtB or whatever, then do what you need to do to recharge your batteries. But under no circumstances are you allowed to say that you are not good at cartooning. You are one of the best. I'm sorry success hasn't found you yet, I wish it would find more truly talented, gifted people, in all fields of life. Sometimes, that's just the way it goes. But I do know this. Success in cartooning will never find you if you quit. There are tons of people out there who honed their craft for years and years, unnoticed, before one day they became on "Overnight Success". But it can't happen if you don't continue, persist, even when you don't want to, especially when it's tough and unrewarding. And I can't guarantee that one day you will definitely be a success. But I can guarantee that if you just quit, you never will be. And you'll always wonder about what could have been.

So, take some time. Get yourself re-focused. Figure out what you love to do, and what you suck at, and try to improve the suck-at skills, and find a way to make what you do every day focus more on what you love. If you want to try something totally new, try it. Go in a completely different direction. The great thing about webcomics is, it's so free. You are not stuck to 3 panels, 3 days a week, or anything. Do one big panel! Do 20 small panels in succession. Do a comic a day. Do one comic a month. Add animation, or sound, or whatever you want. I just encourage you to do something, and stretch yourself in new ways. The best part about being on the downswing of readership or "success" is, there is only up-side! You can be crazy and inventive, and what risk is there? What is there to lose? Nothing! You can only learn about yourself, your abilities, what works, what doesn't, and improve. Make it fun again. Now there's a better measure of success than pageviews, someone who does something that they absolutely love doing, and it is a joy to them, every single day. I would bet by this point, you "love" doing Bruno, but on a regular, daily basis when you start to think "OK, so I gotta get a comic up by Monday. What should I have Bruno do this week?" there are times when you get discouraged, or bored, or just tired, and want to do anything else.

Some interesting exercises I've seen other webcartoonists doing, to stretch their skills and keep them energized and feeling motivated. One picks a different artist every month, and starts up a sketchbook where they try to emulate their drawing style, downright copy it, just as an exercise in drawing things differently than they usually would. One is drawing a girl a day. She likes this certain art style, so every day she draws a sketch of a girl in that style. I know of one guy who wanted to work on caricatures, so he started randomly pulling up pictures out of Flickr, and does a quick caricature of them, limiting himself to like 20 minutes. Anyway, those are just some examples. The idea is, try and pinpoint something you want to improve, and then task yourself with doing something every day, to work on that skill. But, I think the key is, draw something every day. It doesn't matter if it's a quick Fiona sketch in the corner of a work-related document when you're supposed to be listening to a meeting, or doodling when you're on a phone call. Or drawing the people around you at lunchtime. Just, try something new, is my advice.

Big hugs, and hopes that it gets better soon.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:03 pm
by skelebug
I dunno if I posted this before- but my pc didn't load the forum for some reason. And so here I go once more....*deep breath*
it's all my faaaaaulllllttt!

don't give up hope man!! we understand and we love you!!! :( come back soon!!

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:08 pm
by skelebug
And again, I say, Ian, Bruno, Fiona, WE LOVE YOU. Don't feel at all guilty for taking time off, and be happy with what you do, and do what you need to do. Get yourself recharged and relax from Bruno for a while. But whatever you DONT do, do not blame your lack of readership on a lack of talent Ian you got so much of that.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 4:15 pm
by Ian McDonald
Just a quick not to let you all know I'm following this thread, and I appreciate the kind words and suggestions, and that I love you all! Hope to have a longer response here soon! At the moment, I'm digging out from under an avalanche of e-mails I've received since my last Trib post! :D

And Bruno the Bandit will be back one day, I promise!

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:52 am
by kmd
Wow. That letter from Mike Dominic is full of Truth and Awesomeness. Listen to that man!

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:58 am
by Ian McDonald
Hope Mike doesn't read what you wrote here, kmd! He's got enough of a swelled head already!! :D

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:06 am
by AisA
Ian McDonald wrote:Hope Mike doesn't read what you wrote here, kmd! He's got enough of a swelled head already!! :D

Too late. He's read it. My cranium is now the size of a dirigible. Oh the humanity.

kmd, it is a little known scientific fact that my being is mostly composed of Truth and Awesomeness. And cookies. I like cookies.

Guys, any creator working on the net needs two things, one of which is almost as good as another: money and attention. Fortunately, the more you have of either one, the more you can get of the other.
Speaking for myself, the readership on my webcomic was fairly high when I gave it up, but I was getting next to nothing in the way of feedback and absolute zero (-273.15 C for you metrically inclined) in the way of money. With an absence of both, doing the comic felt like shouting down a well, and keeping up the motivation to continue doing it seemed a pointless endeavor. Especially knowing that I was taking that time away from more important things like family, friends, personal and searching out jpegs of Sarah Michelle Gellar. And cookies. Did I mention I like cookies?
It seems that Ian's coming to a similar realization right now, and what I think this strip needs if it's going to continue is fresh blood. New readers. Attention. If the strip's any good (and we know it is, right?), the money will follow, but first it needs people to show up regularly and read the damn thing.
I know you bunch are a creative lot, so may I suggest using your talents to spread the word a bit? Blog a review of the strip. Bring it up in other forums. Tell your friends about it. Skywrite the url at sunset over Shenectady. Do anything. Put the bums in the seats, and then it will be up to Ian to keep them there. Maybe some new blood will get these forums to be a hopping place again and give Ian, fame vampire that he is, the motivation he needs to keep this puppy up and running. I think I've mangled a bunch of metaphors in that last bit, but what else is a metaphor for?
By the way, just for the record, Ian did not ask me to post this. Nor does he necessarily endorse this statement. He was never near the place, and does not know anybody else who uses the stuff.
He does, I am told, like cookies.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:54 pm
by Bickendan
You both get cookies. Chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin?

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:07 pm
by DaveGilbert
One reason why there might not be a lot of forum posts is that it's hard to find this place. I've been a regular "Bruno" reader for years, and I never even knew this forum existed! I only just noticed the words "Bruno Message Board" typed in very tiny letters located far beneath the comic strip. If you want more people to come here, I'd suggest placing the link somewhere where people can see it.

Anyway, I love this strip. It's always a shame when webcomic artists take "breaks" but we are all aware that these are labors of love.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:30 am
by kmd
Hey Ian! Fantastic news! A minion of your very own, books in print again, and a card game! Amazing! And the promise of new strips to come! Yay!

Question though, with that big Keenspot deadline looming, where are you going to be hosted?

Oh, and there are plenty of other things that can contribute to making you feel tired during the day. My doctor has turned me on to getting more protein in at breakfast, to fuel my day, and wow is it working. I now make a smoothie in the morning with fruit and protein powder instead of just eating the fruit itself, and it's made a huge difference for me. That, and a good multivitamin.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:53 am
by Counterclockwise
Wow geez!

That's all great news Ian!
Just when I get a job to pay for the newly offered materials, too! ;p

It only just hit me today, that the date on the tribune was different, so I only just read it. ><

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:47 am
by mouse
glad to hear there are new plans in the works, ian! (and of course, that we may get an end to this story :D )

do stick with the cpap, and as kmd suggests, look at other aspects of your life - diet can definitely make a difference, as can things like allergies and getting enough exercise. i think there are different shapes of masks - a friend of mine also has sleep apnea, and it seems to me he had to try several different models before he got one that really worked for him. but breathing regularly is _definitely_ a good thing - so i applaud your efforts to keep doing it.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:44 am
by Bickendan
Ian, great news :)

Let me know details of when and how much so I can slide some greenbacks your way (wait, you don't use those in Canada-land... ;)). That card game looks sweet, btw.

I still owe you a little something, so I'll try to get to that soon, and work in your suggestions.

Re: Ian giving up hope?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:24 am
by shenglu
This may mean that our readers homework. If we get a CON (Ian and I assume that you need credentials to state-side), we need to make him willing to pay for air tickets and accommodation, rather than he is responsible for admission.