Truly, the end of an era. Hopefully, not of the earth.

If I’m going to give my critical thinking skills a workout, I need to give my critical thinking skills a workout. And since I hope to do a lot of thinking over the course of my life, this should be an important and positive excersize for me. So you know what? I don’t care anymore that no one’s pitching in at the Global Warming Open Thread, or e-mailing me with their arguments. It’s going to be a bit more work for me, but it’s work I probably should do. … It’ll be a more fulfilling experience for me, building skills I’ll need to do more of these series in the future, perhaps even skills that will prove useful for snagging a real job or at least doing well in college. … If there’s a downside, I might not have as much information as I’d like if it doesn’t pop up right away in Google, and I want as complete a picture as possible for this heady issue. But I think it’s worth the risk from a personal growth point of view, and I hope you’re all along for the ride.
Me, in April

Do me a favor: Next time I say something like this, give me a good smack upside the head.

Seriously, I actually thought this would be a “personal growth” experience instead of my own personal hell?

I’ve been in a bit of a schedule crunch for the past few months, with a lot of stuff on my plate and some of my school studies starting to suffer a bit. The worst part, and the part that I think has been dragging me slowly insane, has been the global warming series. You may have gleaned some evidence of this from the increasing lateness of the strip (seriously, I posted the strip at 7 PM PT yesterday?) and from some of my Twitter posts, but I haven’t been in the mood to do research for the series as much as I’ve needed since entering the second phase. Research for the series started out as not too bad if time-consuming and sometimes shied away from, but it has since become an obligation I really haven’t wanted to do, a job I tack on as an afterthought after doing everything else, especially since starting my recent summer class. I told myself, as was hinted in a recent strip, I had to maintain a daily schedule to finish the series as fast as possible, but for most of the second phase I’ve rarely worked more than one strip in advance.

What’s more, the sheer weight of the research required has started to wear on my brain. You’ve seen me start to give a more pro-global-warming bias than I ever intended to give, failing to properly explore arguments, and breaking them off prematurely – or over-relying on waiting strips that move the argument precisely zilch, often essentially repeating prior arguments. This series hasn’t “given my critical thinking skills a workout”, it’s worn them down to nothing.

All that might be excusable if I had touched off the open debate I hoped to start, or attracted the people I hoped to attract to Sandsday to explore the debate for themselves as I present it. But not only has none of that happened, readership has actually gone down compared to the preceding video game strips. Previously the strip, according to Project Wonderful stats, averaged about five page views a day; right now I’m lucky to get two. The Sandsday ad box has actually been delisted, something that never happened before – suspended for no one loading the box, but not out-and-out delisted for poor performance.

So all that leads to the development at least hinted at in today’s strip: I am suspending – not aborting – the global warming series for about three weeks, maybe four. During that time we’ll go back to the sort of strips that characterized Sandsday before the series began, that is to say, video game strips. Afterwards, the series will start up again. However, once the series starts up again I will not hold myself to a daily schedule, but will instead do research when I feel like it and release strips accordingly. There may be long swathes without any strips at all, or periods where a lot of strips are released, one a day for weeks. I will allow the series to play out more organically and naturally from here on out until it reaches a conclusion. Once the series reaches an end I will end Sandsday right then and there with my final verdict. I’ve considered ending the strip before – at one point I was considering ending it at #500 – but the inability of the global warming series to increase readership and its increasing job-like nature have convinced me that I probably will never get the readership I’d hoped for and probably will never find the strip as enjoyable as I would need to to continue with it.

Sandsday will not be the last comic I do, not even the last webcomic; I have at least two other ideas I’d like to bring down the pipeline, although they almost certainly won’t be ready before the site relaunch. I still stand by the basic gimmick of the strip even if I was not able to utilize its potential in the way I had hoped for, and I feel like I’ve tarnished the gimmick in some way by working on it myself instead of leaving it for other, more talented writers to pick up. I would like Sandsday to go down as an experiment that I used to help build my writing abilities by getting in over 500 reps over a period of nearly (if not over) two years. I’ve gotten some appreciative comments about the strip; I have also gotten some comments that have told me to, essentially, get some art lessons and abandon this hopeless carcass. Through it all, I maintained a streak of consecutive days with a strip that will run to over 550 by the time I start dropping strips. I don’t take the decision to end the strip lightly, but I trust that with the time I’m freeing up by ending the strip, there will be more and better stuff to come into the Morgan Wick Online Universe that will make up for the loss.

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