Vexed by text

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Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:07 am

This is a reposting from the blog, for anybody who wants to chime in.

***

zinjak posts:

ewwww dont take away all the comics, i got in to your stuff because of the comics not the text ( i didn't even read the goblin cave stuff because it was too much of an about face) and when i come here i actually get a lil bit more dissapointed when the only update is text then no update at all.


I've been practically begging people to post in the chatbox and forum, lately, and I want to make sure I don't chase folks off right away by being argumentative. So keep in mind that I'm using this more as a springboard to discuss the matter further, so you guys have an idea what my thinking is.

I started posting this in the tagboard, then realized I had too much to say. :D

As for the old comics: I'm not taking away any of the older comics, and if it turns out that moving the handful of archives into the donation area was a mistake, I can move them back.

The difficult issue is production of new comics, the expense and time of that production, and the update schedule--all of that has suffered over the years because I have not been able to find adequate funding even to stay online, half the time. For those of you who missed it, I was away for about a year, simply because the computer died. And it is only through charity that I am back online, now. But the deal was: do good and then pass it on. Well, I'm not doing any, er, gooder than before.

So it's a little different this time. Previous text stories were usually posted as an emergency measure, sometimes preceding some pending disaster or other. This is a more deliberate change of strategy.

This is a risk, but it's not as big a risk as you might think. Elf Life has simply failed as a comic. It only has about a tenth of the readership of what would be considered an even mildly successful comic in the current market. It has been rejected. When people online talk about it, it's usually to trash it and rip on my art.

My art is fair game; it's certainly not as good as I would like it to be. When it is good at all, it is because I've worked very hard at it, because there is simply a mechanical obstacle to anything I draw, which is my lousy eyesight. I can't focus on what I'm drawing, very well. So, in a way, the text is something of a relief, for me. I don't use this as an excuse for bad art; but in talking about comics versus text, to me the text seems better, not worse, freed from my unsatisfactory drawings.

But then there have also been reviews of the comic by readers who didn't understand the story, or thought it was too complicated. Many readers--even sympathetic ones--have told me that they have stopped reading Elf Life simply because it seemed like nothing was happening. And that's because of the slow, plodding way the story moves as daily or weekly serialized comic. There's lots of action, but it's stretched out to tedious levels because the characters talk a lot, too.

This has always been our curse: new readers come aboard and become fans after reading the archive in one sitting; when the comics are read cohesively, the story really moves. But then they are forced to wait on the updates. And suddenly things don't seem to move the way they remember. This has been true as far back as I can remember. Some of the most exciting parts of the archive--SpriteSpace, Rhymes of the Ancienk Mariner--people thought those plodded while they were updating. The energy quotient of Elf Life has never changed, it just doesn't work in such short snippets. So it seems that instead of building readership, I simply go through readers like tissue. They love me and leave me. :D

I have an awful lot of faith in Elf Life, so I have to face the fact that I've been going about it the wrong way entirely. I may risk losing some folks who prefer the comics, but I have to try to gain even more readers who appreciate the faster action and increased detail of the text.

And the art and illustration won't stop. This is an increase in productivity all around. I'm already working on the text revision of Lake Froth's Bane, and I am starting to chart out a Robin Hood series, separate from Elf Life, which takes place in a contemporary high school.

Maybe a better, simpler way to put this: as much as I love comics, I seem to be heading in the same direction as my two cartoonist idols, Wally Wood and Von Bode (massive talents who both died miserably). I need to hop off that train, right now. I need to make my new models Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore.

I won't stop drawing, posting illustrations, and even some comics. I still want plenty of art on the site. If I can gain more audience through daily text updates, that means more art, not less. Because no audience and no revenue means no nothing.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby maskedshoo on Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:41 am

Hey Carson!

Elf Life was the first webcomic I ever started reading forever ago! I am so Happy that you started updating again because it has always been one of my favorites! :D I don't mind the text updates at all. I love your artwork, but I agree that you writing it out furthers the story along tremendously, which is why I'm here! I love the story! I think that your old fans will be happy with text updates like I am, though it probably wont attract as many new reader as doing comics would since they probably came to the site looking for webcomics. And if you do go back to comics, don't feel like you have to photoshop them up all spiffy. Just leave them black and white like the old ones that we all loved! I'm glad that you're not putting the archives in the donor's section, because I like to go back and read them all every few months or so. If there is one thing I could change though, I'm not as wild about the Babes in the Woods story arch. Since I'm a girl, I'm not really into naked fairies and busty mermaids. They're cute and funny, but they seem like irrelevant side characters. I wish that you would go back and finish the wedding, or at least just keep adding on to the main Elf Life story line. I would really like to learn more about Baughb's past (/future). It feels like there is a a whole epic tale there, that I am itching to learn more about. But that's just one person's opinion. You should really just write what YOU want. You cant please everybody, so you might as well just make yourself happy! :D I'll keep reading no matter what! You have so much talent and such a huge and interesting story, it wont be long before your success permeates through the internet and you gather the fans that you deserve! Just don't give up! You're awesome XD
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby riskyelven on Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:13 pm

I'm a long time fan as well. I really like the variety of characters that parade through elf life, but I think the focus has been on the mutant mermaids for way too long. I got excited by the Airek/Time Lord storyline, but it seems sadly stalled.

I also think that's it's far too easy to get caught up in "fancy" and "better" comic art and forget that stories can be told in 3/4 square panels, sometimes better than in full page graphic wonders. I really enjoyed your "old" format and don't need jumbo sized colored museum pieces to be happy, and neither do most people (pick a comic that is as popular as you want to be; odds are it has 3-6 square panels). Now name a successful "text" comic. You may be able to, but I can tell you one thing, I don't read it.

I'll keep visiting this site (page views are good, right?) daily or even more frequently than that, but I won't be reading the text, because I check this page during my "comic reading" time. If there's a comic page, I'll definitely read that. And I'll keep donating when I can, even when I'm not getting what I want for my pittance and eyeballs.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:54 am

Thanks, guys! There's a lot here for me to consider.

One nice thing about going to text is that it *is* going to let me go back and finish a lot of stuff that didn't get finished, or finished badly, because of the difficulty in keeping the art production going.

In fact, I'll be getting to a stopping point with 'Babes' pretty quick, now. Which is really saying something, because if you chopped the last several updates out into comics, I would realistically be working on this one scene for many more weeks to come. Maybe months.

So after this, I've got a choice to make. Go all the way to the very beginning? Restart and finish, finally, the big wedding? Both are tempting for different reasons.

The more recent continuation of the series, with Airek's time boat and the pirate mermaids--frankly, I had gotten the impression that it had bombed. I heard nothing but complaints, and the numbers were dismal. Only recently have I heard a few people say they liked it at all. But the final arbiter is me, and I have to say that I wasn't particularly happy with it. Certainly not the way I've been happy with the last two weeks of story.

Maybe it was just the fact that I relaunched a bit on the quiet side. I may be happier promoting this texting of Elf Life, and I may bill it as "Elf Life Rebooted", with a picture of Baughb's boots. :D
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby MagnusFaustus on Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:30 pm

Ralma- *twitches at horrible 'boot' pun* >_>;
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby maskedshoo on Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:12 pm

I Loved the horrible boot pun XD And I think that that definitely needs to happen!! Elf Life Rebooted! I also liked the Airek; Master of Time storyline too! I just missed Baughb's hat. I don't think you should re-write any of the stuff you've already done though. You should continue the story, not redo it. Though it would be kind of fun to hear what everyone is thinking from the beginning like you are able to do in a text version. But some new stuff would be the most awesome. :D
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:33 am

I've been thinking about the "rewriting" part some more, and had an idea for the Elf Life book, which I was supposed to have put together a long time ago.

First, the big stumbling block: I am not comfortable releasing the current comic archive in print, as is. I always wanted to go back and fix certain things, and add new comics. There are whole scenes missing, lost opportunities. Even early on, I told myself that the comics on the internet were a "first draft". So I'm not willing now to just do a data dump.

And that's why I never got the book ready for publication. There was just too much more production that still needed to be done.

However! :D

I am seeing, in my mind's eye, a completely different format, where the book becomes an illustrated novel, with the comics section in the back as a supplement. That way, the story is compete, even if the comics are not. It will be understood that the comics are a truncated version of the story. And in that context, I can live with the comics being incomplete.

My first count of the pages, iirc, was that the first book would include everything up to the end of the return of Glynhial. Instead, Glynhial would be the second book (providing these get off the ground), and the first would concentrate more completely on the Cesspool war--Lake Froth's Bane.

Heck, now that I think of it, I would settle for the novel section to not be illustrated, as long as it's got a nice cover. It'll depend on the page count. Maybe another edition, later, could have illustrations instead of the comics.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby Svartalf on Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:58 pm

carsonfire wrote:My art is fair game; it's certainly not as good as I would like it to be. When it is good at all, it is because I've worked very hard at it, because there is simply a mechanical obstacle to anything I draw, which is my lousy eyesight. I can't focus on what I'm drawing, very well. So, in a way, the text is something of a relief, for me. I don't use this as an excuse for bad art; but in talking about comics versus text, to me the text seems better, not worse, freed from my unsatisfactory drawings.


I've a brilliant question for you, Cars... I'm not wholly proposing that you ditch the plan you're on (I'm impressed in the imagery you've pulled out with all the girls in Babes in the Woods...)- but would one of those amazing Wacom Cintiq screens (or any of the competing products that've popped up recently) do any good for helping your art? Yes, I know, they're expensive, and it's not quite the same as paper work- would it help you produce the illustrations we've come to know and love out of your comic?
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:58 pm

Svartalf wrote:I've a brilliant question for you, Cars... I'm not wholly proposing that you ditch the plan you're on (I'm impressed in the imagery you've pulled out with all the girls in Babes in the Woods...)- but would one of those amazing Wacom Cintiq screens (or any of the competing products that've popped up recently) do any good for helping your art? Yes, I know, they're expensive, and it's not quite the same as paper work- would it help you produce the illustrations we've come to know and love out of your comic?


I'd like to get one eventually, and it will help the illustrations, but it's not going to change the situation. Right now I'm a little nervous about the way the traffic is going.

By the way, apologies for the porn spam, if you got it. Apparently a bot got in and hit every single user. Delete it without looking at the contents, if you can.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby Svartalf on Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:57 pm

carsonfire wrote:I'd like to get one eventually, and it will help the illustrations, but it's not going to change the situation.


I didn't expect it to change the situation (Like I said...the text stuff's pretty amazing, really...)- I was just curious if you thought that a Cintiq or similar would
help out on the illustrations so you could be able to make a few more of them to match the caliber of what you've done in the past, time permitting.

Now that we know you're of the opinion that it'll help, we now know what to work at arranging for you if you don't beat us
to the punch on it. :D
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby Svartalf on Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:00 pm

carsonfire wrote:The more recent continuation of the series, with Airek's time boat and the pirate mermaids--frankly, I had gotten the impression that it had bombed. I heard nothing but complaints, and the numbers were dismal. Only recently have I heard a few people say they liked it at all. But the final arbiter is me, and I have to say that I wasn't particularly happy with it. Certainly not the way I've been happy with the last two weeks of story.


It was decent enough- I can't say it was "great", but that was only because you'd just barely got that story arc started and then it stalled again.
I'd love to see what happened after Val trashed the dark echo of Glee- so if you're wanting to revisit the wedding, that'd be great! :D
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:11 pm

Bleah, it sucked. :p

Even the current mermaid-faerie fight I wouldn't call "great", but I think it certainly is the most fun to be had in the series in quite some time. And it's even winding down the way it's supposed to, instead of coming to a premature halt because everybody's complaining about how slow everything's going... grumble... :D

Still, the *only* comment on the site so far seems to be an objection to it not being a comic. Sigh.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:17 pm

Svartalf wrote:the text stuff's pretty amazing


Say, could I quote you on that? I need to put some positive blurbage on the site, seriously.

EDIT: In fact, I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to do it right away, so I might catch some of the last of today's newsbox hits.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby Svartalf on Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:22 pm

carsonfire wrote:
Svartalf wrote:the text stuff's pretty amazing


Say, could I quote you on that? I need to put some positive blurbage on the site, seriously.

EDIT: In fact, I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to do it right away, so I might catch some of the last of today's newsbox hits.


Heh... I caught that. Not a problem, Cars.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:59 am

Thanks! :D

I have to remind myself that there are basic things like this I can still do. Testimonials are effective.
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby ChibiBecca on Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:16 pm

i really need to read through this comic again sometime, it was one of the first webcomics i ever read and i loved it. it's managed to change my day-to-day conversation, i seem to be able to bring 'froliking' into most conversations. :P

*gets comfy into the forum, this was the first one she joined on keenspot*
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby carsonfire on Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:45 am

Hi, ChibiBecca! :D
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Re: Vexed by text

Postby KLCtheBookWorm on Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:01 pm

Wow, coming to this horrendously late, I know. But I thought I had the RSS reader set up correctly and when I didn't see any updates, I assumed things had gone down south for you again.

Carson, I loved the characters, the world, and the honking-huge epic story you've been trying to get out of your head since I first stumbled onto Elf Life. What has frustrated me as a reader is the disappearances (which I do understand can't be helped with no money) and the reappearances only to have the entire storyline I was following dropped for a new one. And the reason always seemed to be "need something shiny to get traffic!" I end up pulling my hair in frustration and just stop checking.

Now I see you have the idea of novelizing the whole Elf Life story with illustrations. Not necessarily a bad idea with your eye problems. I will probably try to catch up on that (and fix my RSS feed) now that I know it exists. But I'd hate for you to abandon the comic medium without trying to update it by the chapter instead.

What you're attempting doesn't work with daily updates or weekly updates (and dude, I think you have the evidence to back that up). But I think if you completed a whole storyline, "Babes in the Woods" for example and then posted all of it up in one chunk for the readers to devour, I think you'd be getting a lot more positive feedback. There's a reason fantasy seems to have the lion share of trilogies; the genre just needs more words compared to everything else. [url="http://www.cheshirecrossing.net/"]Cheshire Crossing[/url] publishes only when a book is finished and you sign up for an email alert. You could problem check with its creator over how well it works.

My second suggestion is to find an artist partner. I know money is an issue and I really don't have a problem with your art style, but your eyesight is making it hard to keep up with production. You got the rest of the story scripting skills down, but with someone to help you, maybe we'd actually see "the end" on Elf Life and be satisfied with the conclusion.
I love anticipation, except when I have to wait for it. -- Dusty668

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