Image upload hasn’t been working on Blogger in Draft since at least last weekend’s Darths and Droids post. If they won’t fix it, I will.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized diary of death.)

Well, the idea that every theme would reset to the beginning, and my idea for the last episode of IWC, appears to be dead.

Instead, we get the first appearance of “Me” in over four months, seemingly unaffected by the chaos enveloping IWC in the meantime.

If I may say so myself, I would suggest that David Morgan-Mar would need to do a lot of lawyering to claim he hasn’t violated his original “someone dies!!!” strip. “No ghosts”? “No witty banter with the Head Death before returning”? Well, technically the Me that got killed didn’t become a ghost, and technically this isn’t the same Me that had “witty banter with the Head Death”…

Honestly, I’m not sure what to expect from IWC for the rest of the year, or the rest of its existence.

If it weren’t for David Morgan-Mar’s large buffer I’d think he was responding to my last IWC post.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized things beyond mortal ken.)

So by all appearances, my theory that IWC just underwent a permanent reboot to the beginning has been shot to hell.

The funny thing is, though, every theme that has had at least two strips since the reboot – Space, Shakespeare, Martians, Cliffhangers, and Steve and Terry, especially Space, Martians, and Steve and Terry (Cliffhangers seems to want it both ways) – has backed up the idea of starting over from the beginning.

So the likeliest idea is that – uh oh – the Irregular Crisis isn’t over yet and there’s still more madness yet to come.

But I like the idea that the last four months of the Fantasy theme, the entire destruction of the universe, stay in the afterlife, and brief flashback to a tavern, has all been part of an extended flashback sequence and we’re only now picking up the plot thread from this strip.

Although… is that the Balrog I see in the last panel? Is Kyros not telling the whole truth?

My departure from Irregular Webcomic may not be long in coming.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized inverse cube law.)

I’ve been waiting for nearly three weeks for some indication of exactly what happened when the universe was recreated, and I may have gotten my answer.

I wondered for a while if there would be some historical “glitches” that would continue the theme of the Irregular Crisis, until I read the Pirates theme from beginning to end. After that, my main hypothesis was that all the themes that had started in medias res in some way (which is to say, almost all of them except Espionage, with the caveat that Harry Potter and Star Wars are out of order and order of events doesn’t matter in other, more gag-a-day themes like Shakespeare) were rebooted from the beginning and would be carried up to about the point when Irregular Webcomic! had taken them up originally.

Death of Inhaling Hatmaking Chemicals’ explanation doesn’t really contradict that hypothesis, and it seems to suggest there won’t be any glitches that require a furthering of the crisis storyline, the “scrambled history” serving as an excuse for any accidental inconsistencies Morgan-Mar may introduce. Like this. Or this.

On the other hand, it could prove to be a case of overconfidence and saying “it’s probably nothing” to something that very much is something…

Or it really is nothing, and merely a reference to the influences events on the Infinite Featureless Plane of Death have on the new universe, such as in the new Scientific Revolution theme, or with the Cliffhangers’ heroes having dropped to Charon.

Regardless, were it not for the curious disappearance of the Me theme from the list of themes after the white-blue-red-black transition, I’d wonder if a reappearance of Me was in the offing, and perhaps a (possibly fictionalized) account of Morgan-Mar’s life up to 2002 in the works… setting up a truly great final strip (whited out to avoid interfering with or otherwise influencing Morgan-Mar’s plans):

“Hey, there’s comics on the Internet! Ha ha ha! What a waste of time.”

Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be original…

Two out of three ain’t bad.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized dream motivations.)

We’ve been on a trek across history over the past week or so, and either the recreation of the universe has resulted in changing history, or more likely, we’re restarting all the themes at the effective beginning of their respective stories.

(Wouldn’t it be funny if the last comic was the same as the first one? Spoilered out to avoid giving David Morgan-Mar any ideas, not that I would object to seeing it if he already came up with the idea.)

But there appears to be an added side effect of the ongoing Irregular Crisis. It appears that Morgan-Mar has now introduced a new “Scientific Revolution” theme.

And this new theme not only includes Ishmael’s encounter with Isaac Newton in the afterlife, but also the encounter the Pirates had with Lewis Carroll. (Which appears to have a bug: the former strip skips the latter when you click on the new theme’s “Next” button.)

Despite the fact that Carroll lived in the 19th century and Newton in the 17th.

It’s apparent that Morgan-Mar has a lot of plans for this theme.

But just enough about it is off-putting to me that it may accelerate my departure from IWC, especially if it becomes clear quickly just what we’re doing, which could come as soon as any theme’s second strip, especially the new one’s.

There are no unambiguous happy endings! Every ending has to be bittersweet!

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized corny endings.)

So it’s Reboot the Universe Week at Irregular Webcomic! This is now the fourth straight strip with this same last panel.

Presumably we still have three more to go, including the biggest bang ever courtesy of the Mythbusters theme.

Curiously, we don’t know yet whether all these diverse elements create one universe or a “multiverse” of sorts. It would seem to make sense that if the universe had to be destroyed multiple times, it needs to be created multiple times, but a lot of these universe-creation efforts seem somewhat inconsistent.

And… that’s about it. I just thought the repetition of final panels was interesting. And it is a pretty plot-important week.

State of Irregular Webcomic: Dispatches from the Afterlife

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized gibbering madness and destruction.)

So the destruction of the universe turned out to be, in a sense, much ado about nothing.

But it’s also serving as the impetus for a major change… in the short-term, at least.

After ten days of white turning to blue turning to red turning to black, which looked for all the world to be an artsy way of depicting the birth of a new universe, the black turned out to be… the Head Death’s eyes, positioned along with everyone else in the universe (including people from various points in time) in the Afterlife. So no, the universe hasn’t been reborn yet, and we’re forced to be tortured for a while more yet, wondering when and how it does.

After another week of the Head Death drawing things out by answering people’s questions, strips that all remained stuck in almost every single theme (with the curious and sudden exception of Me), he handed it over to a re-promoted Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs, and upon leaving, everything devolved back to the Death theme alone for no real reason. (Come on, like this strip doesn’t still belong in most of the themes.) Fireballs continues taking questions from the congregation for a couple more strips, before sending it back to the congregation.

So for almost all of January, Irregular Webcomic! didn’t fit my “sixteen-comics-in-one” theory. More than before the destruction of the universe, it was a single, unified comic with a single, unified plot I could follow from day to day. Starting with #2187, though, it returned to having several plots going on at once, with the caveat that since everyone’s dead, they all get the Death theme as well…and since everyone’s hanging out on the Infinite Featureless Plane of Death at one time, it’s really one plot peeking in at various parts of the plane, and everyone’s varied plots, and any two themes can cross over at any moment.

It evokes the dimensions the Irregular Crisis took in the lead-up to the destruction, where various themes started running parallel tracks. But now IWC is equally readable as a single comic or as a collection of smaller ones… and the experience isn’t really complete without the former.

On a similar track to that lead-up to the destruction of the universe, the various themes are starting to fall into parallel tracks, for obvious reasons. Everyone wants to either just plain escape the afterlife (and the Cliffhangers appear to have already done so), or restart the universe. Mythbusters, Shakespeare/Harry Potter, Martians, and now Steve and Terry all have parallel plans developing to restart the universe, most started within the last week or two, with the potential for more to come, while the Head Death’s meeting with the Paradox Department proceeds apace. All evidence is that the universe is going to be recreated, and we’re going to have a front-row seat for the new Genesis.

But it’s very possible Irregular Webcomic! will never be the same again.

But I can’t wait to see how we get there – and what IWC comes out the other end as… if anything.

Blog of Webcomics’ Identity Crisis: For the Love of Webcomics

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized abrasion of large hadrons.)

It’s become apparent that my “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis” series is very much a representation of a moment in time, of the state of webcomics in February 2009. (Really January, considering the impeti for me to write it.) So here, I hope to keep a record of the more interesting thoughts on the matter floating on the Internet. There are plenty of other places to get a comprehensive record; this is a log of my ongoing thoughts as I hope to write a book on the changing face of the Internet in general. (It’s not getting its own label for the time being though, and I still have a full-fledged “State of IWC” post coming.)

Hey, David Morgan-Mar linked to me off his LiveJournal again! DMM is responsible for what has been one of only one or two major traffic bumps in Da Blog’s history when he linked to my full-fledged review of Darths and Droids. For someone who launched into webcomics in 2002, rather late compared to some of the giants of the field, he has always been something of an outsider (his first strip is basically him discovering the idea of webcomics) who’s been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from the webcomics community. As he stipulates in his post, he’s actually been surprised, almost oblivious, to Irregular Webcomic!‘s notoriety in the webcomic community.

This part gets to the heart of the post and is worth quoting in full:

And then I find myself thinking: Hang on. If there are a few dozen webcomic authors making enough money to live on, and I’m pushing for a spot in the top 50, why am I making no money whatsoever out of my comics? (In fact, why do I pay a webhost $40 a month for the privilege of putting my comics on the Net?)

To avoid any suspense, the simple answer is that I have never treated webcomics as a way of making money. I’ve never had any expectation that maybe one day I’ll be able to run ads and sell merchandise and make some money. That “business model” has never been something I’m aiming towards.

All I’ve ever wanted out of webcomics is to do something creative, share it with people, hopefully entertain a few people, and have it as a fun hobby. Over time I’ve added a couple of other desires: To educate people with the annotations I occasionally write to accompany comics, and to raise some money for charity.

But there’s this whole community of people out there, webcomic authors, critics, bloggers, and so on, who seem obsessed with the idea that webcomics can be (or already are) a way to make a living, and lamenting the difficulty of breaking into the field and building up the recognition to that magical point where you can quit your day job and live off merchandising. They analyse the developments in webcomics, pore over statistics, speculate about the future of the “industry” and what webcomics will be like in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and wonder how many people will be making a living off them and how easy/hard it will be for new talent to get recognised.

Well… sometimes it just bemuses me. I sort of know this community is out there all the time, but I don’t dwell on it, and I don’t really participate much in it. I just make my comics and put them on the net, and hope someone has a nice word to say about them. Sure, it would be really nice if someone offered me a full-time salary to quit my job and make webcomics, and I’d probably think seriously about doing so. But it’s not an end I’m seeking. I’m not taking the steps to try to get there.

So although apparently I’m part of the webcomics scene, I still feel like the meek outsider who doesn’t belong. I don’t seem to share the same aspirations as many of the vocal webcomics personalities. And I have to say that for the most part, I’m glad I don’t. I don’t want to obsess over the “state of webcomics” or whether webcomics are considered an artform or not, or whether webcomic authors can make money or not. I just want to spend a few hours a week enjoying my hobby.

Fleen also links to Morgan-Mar’s post (so I may be getting another, bigger bump) and I’m mostly going to cover the same ground as Gary Tyrell, but I also have a far more profound thing to say about Morgan-Mar’s topic:

David? A lot of the people in this community would really love to know your secret. (Also, don’t get too excited about being #55 in Comixtalk’s comedy list. First of all, I still hope that list isn’t ordered; second of all, if it is the only reason you’re likely to make the final list, let alone anywhere near that high, is the paucity of drama nominees.)

Irregular Webcomic! is nowhere near as easy to create as Sandsday. It’s not as simple as taking a bunch of random circles and squares and copying-and-pasting them onto panel after panel, and making funny jokes using them. You have to have the impressive LEGO collection, you have to set them up in the way you want to, you have to have the mad Photoshop skillz… Eric Burns(-White) goes into more detail just how much effort must go into each IWC here. And that’s just IWC; Morgan-Mar may get help on the other projects, but between all the plot points that need to be shaken out on Darths and Droids and organizing all the screen caps, and all the coding work that’s gone into IWC and mezzacotta, and basically everything David Morgan-Mar has his hands in the cookie jar of, and he notes in his post that he’s paying $40 on hosting costs alone…

If David Morgan-Mar wanted to open up even one revenue stream – a single Project Wonderful or even Google ad, selling just one or two tchotchkes, even allowing donations to himself rather than directing them all to the Jane Goodall Institute – he could probably make more money than most webcomic artists could ever dream of. But Morgan-Mar doesn’t make a single penny off his comics. (Okay, so there’s a tiny little ad at the top of mezzacotta, but still.)

It’d be nice if every webcomicker could simply make comics as a hobby effort and not only not worry about making any money, but consciously avoid even rather simple steps they could take to make money. (I don’t understand why people like Morgan-Mar and Rich Burlew are so insistent about not putting up ads; there are plenty of ways to make them non-intrusive, guys!) But webcomics (and blogs) take time to make, and they don’t pay the bills. You still have to go to a job, and that means time taken out of your schedule to make comics – and do other things. And Irregular Webcomic! isn’t done cheap.

So how is it that David Morgan-Mar can put together one comic by his lonesome, and contribute to several others, and pay for the hosting of all of them? And keep track of e-mails, forum posts, etc.? And not make a single dime off any of it, which means he’s doing it all while maintaining a day job?

Whatever it is, hats off to David Morgan-Mar: a webcomics success story in his very lack of success.

No comment on Darths and Droids finishing Episode One.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized better things to do.)
Getting this out of the way so I don’t have to worry about making sure I get a post out for the rest of the day…

So after about a week of whiteness fading to blueness fading to redness fading to blackness, the entire sequence led to the blackness turning out to be the Head Death’s eye. Despite what most people probably expected, it wasn’t the birth pangs of a new universe; instead, everyone is hanging out on the Not-So-Infinite and Not-So-Featureless Infinite Featureless Plane of Death, which survived the death of the universe.

This helps explain the themes that were and were not part of this crossover… as Supers is hand-drawn, even if it had crossed over with anything it’d be impossible for it to mesh with all the LEGO figures in this sequence. But Espionage has been seen to use the IFPoD as well, even if it’s interacted with no other themes and even if getting roped into this crossover would delay the main plot too much.

There’s still some question as to what will happen next… will everyone ultimately get returned to some revival of their universe? Is the rest of the strip just going to be various misadventures in whatever comes after the IFPoD? Wait… what if what comes after the IFPoD is just a carbon copy of the previous universe and everything proceeds as if nothing happened, yet something happened?

My head hurts…

This space intentionally left blank.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized… .)

So, did you hear? Apparently the very fabric of the universe got torn apart yesterday.

Bit of a grim way to put up my first post of the new year, eh?

On another note, why isn’t Supers or Miscellaneous among the myriad of themes listed on this strip?

(Yes, I am reviewing a comic that’s not by David Morgan-Mar today. However, I’m probably going to put up another post on IWC if and when there’s another comic. Which I will spend all of today, if not beyond, anxiously awaiting.)

(On another note, I’m fairly sure Sandsday is the very first comic to update its “status” on Buzzcomix in the new year, going by timestamps at least. Yay me! Let’s put up a wildly propagandized historical marker to mark the occasion!)

Those big, hairy critters can be a bit stroppy.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized very fabric of the universe yada yada.)
You know your crisis is reaching monumental proportions when it starts roping in themes that aren’t even regular.

When it starts roping in Harry Potter… and the Star Wars theme that’s been virtually unheard of since Darths and Droids started.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Espionage got involved… or even the Supers theme that hasn’t been heard from in ages. We’ve already seen six themes out of fourteen that aren’t Death, Miscellaneous, or Me. (Cliffhangers, Mythbusters, Shakespeare, and Martians are the others.)

That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday strips to finish up the seven strips needed to rope in every last theme… but crossovers will almost certainly be included in there, and it would be poetic justice to put the critical moment one year to the day after the death of Me.

(Then again, it evidently never occured to the Comic Irregulars how close Phantom Menace would come to wrapping up in 200 strips, so why should I give DMM credit for minding the one-year gap? Though who am I to speak? For whatever reason, I keep wallowing in Morgan-Mar central instead of just posting on a non-Morgan-Mar, non-OOTS, non-CAD strip on Tuesday like I’m GOING to do.)