Site Migration Alert

After ten years, I am leaving HostMonster.

The quality of HostMonster’s hosting and support seems to have declined over the years and while things have been mostly fine for me, I still decided I wasn’t satisfied with how things were going with them and wanted to find a cheaper option for hosting, given my problems with getting anywhere with the site and the resulting financial problems (I’ve been renewing my HostMonster hosting on a monthly basis for the past year, which explains some of the periods of downtime the site has had in that time). I found it much more difficult to find a suitable host than I remember it being ten years ago (especially since part of the problem with HostMonster is that it and several other of the biggest and best hosts from back then have apparently been bought out by a faceless mega-corporation), but A2 Hosting seems to be good enough for my purposes. HostMonster served this site fairly well for the past ten years, and it is my hope that A2 can continue to serve it well going forward.

Unfortunately, I procrastinated a little too long to sign up for A2 Hosting, and as a result I’m not comfortable with using their migration service (which has a lead time of 3-5 business days when my HostMonster account expires Monday or Tuesday), so as a result I’m going to be migrating the site over manually. There may be some downtime later today, possibly as long as a few hours, as I transfer everything over, and there may be more than a few hiccups along the way. (This will likely coincide with tonight’s Steven Universe-watching session.)

Somewhat relatedly, Project Wonderful is shutting down. I always liked the fact that I could count on Project Wonderful ads to be static images that didn’t bog down the browser like so many ads on so many other websites, but it sounds like the direction the Internet has taken in the past decade has taken its toll on the ability of non-intrusive (or even non-Google/Facebook) advertising to survive, and I seem to recall the amount of money I was getting from Project Wonderful ads, never particularly strong to begin with, plummeting even before my semi-recent decline in productivity. At some point over the weekend I’ll be replacing Project Wonderful ads with Google ads, and I’ll be trying my hardest to keep them as non-intrusive as the Project Wonderful ads were, but I don’t know how much I can do about that. This also means the Advertising FAQ is now a deprecated page; I’ll keep it online for historical interest but it will not be linked to from anywhere.

THE GAME TO SHOW THE GAMES now available in paperback!

After two months being available only for Kindle, my book, The Game to Show the Games, is now available in paperback from Amazon, for those who still prefer having their books on paper. A link to the Amazon page has been added to the book page on this site, and once Barnes and Noble begins offering it on their site I’ll add a link there too; it should also start to become available on various other online book retailers over the next few days. (Don’t bother looking for it in physical bookstores unless it really takes off, though.)

I’ve also added a cover image to the sidebar that will link to the book page, and as soon as I have suitable images I’m going to add links to buy the book to the ad spaces so the bottom one isn’t plugging a webcomic that’s been defunct and inaccessible for years. I also took the opportunity to finally get rid of that outdated Twitter widget hat hasn’t been supported for years, but the replacement had to go onto the right sidebar underneath the blog archive elements because Twitter currently supports only one style of widget and it can’t be narrower than 180 pixels.

The most important day in the history of the Morgan Wick Online Universe since the launch of Da Blog, and a day never to be matched in importance again.

The day has arrived that I knew would come ever since I launched the web site.

I have moved the web site from to will be the new home for all aspects of the Morgan Wick Online Universe, from the seemingly-stalled comic strip Sandsday to the 100 Greatest Movies Project to the street sign gallery to my sports projects. That includes Da Blog. Effective immediately, all blog posts will be hosted at, and the Blogspot account will stop updating. (Some dummy posts may start appearing next year.) Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to point to

I’ve made my frustration with Blogger and Freehostia clear over the past several months. Blogger was clunky and prone to problems. Freehostia had a clunky file manager in IE, a frustrating FTP, and only one MySQL database on the free plan. Both of them, however, should be commended for getting me a head start in building the content that will now make the move to In fact, the problems with Freehostia have been sufficiently mitigated that I might be tempted to continue housing the new web site on Freehostia, especially since my ads pay for my domain but not my hosting.

However, that’s only possible in the short term, and it’s not really possible. I’m only allowed one MySQL database on Freehostia and it pretty much has to be used by my blogging platform; while the blogging platform is robust enough to handle a lot, I kinda need to at least have the freedom to create a second database for certain purposes. And as long as I’m moving to my own domain and moving up to paying for the hosting, I should get the best domain, hosting, and blogging services there are out there, and get the most bang for the buck for them.

For me, and for those particular fields, that means moving to Namecheap, Hostmonster, and WordPress.

For most people, GoDaddy is the only domain registrar they’ve ever heard of. I decided very early on in the process of finding a domain registrar that I would not use GoDaddy. By all accounts, they’re all T&A (literally), no substance (or customer service), and possibly the worst domain registrar on the Internet, used only by amateurs who watch TV to find an Internet domain registrar and don’t really know what they’re doing. Namecheap was one of the most commonly cited and praised names that came up in a search for good domain registrars. I found Hostmonster the same way I found Freehostia – by looking at sites that would compare hosting services side-by-side for me based on other people’s reviews. Hostmonster came out on top on multiple such comparison sites despite some tight competition, especially since WordPress didn’t include a link to Hostmonster that I could use to support WordPress, but did contain a link to Hostmonster’s sister service Bluehost.

That might be the last time I mention either service. You don’t need to know who I paid for the domain or who’s hosting the site. It’s my very own domain now. I mention them in case I ever have problems with either service, or in case I ever move from either and have to shut down the site while the move processes. If there’s a quibble with Hostmonster, it’s that they’ve been known to shut down sites without warning for violations of Terms of Service, which basically comes down to backing up the site and not getting the domain and hosting from the same place lest you become unable to leave.

Chances are if you’ve ever heard of any of the three services, you’ve heard of WordPress. Even in the unlikely scenario you haven’t heard of it, you’ve seen it. Adherents to Movable Type would proclaim its superiority, but by many accounts WordPress is the best blogging platform on the Internet, and certainly the best free one. It’s fitting that there are three major blogging platforms and they all appeal to different people. Blogger is the quickest, dirtiest way to start a blog if you don’t want to pay any money and don’t know anything about the Internet, especially if you want to start building something big. (Both WordPress and Movable Type have hosting services using their infrastructure but WordPress’ functionality is extremely limited – ads aren’t even allowed. Typepad is a pay service, which makes me wonder why anyone who could afford it wouldn’t just start their own Movable Type site.)

Wordpress is the best service if you have your own hosting and don’t want to pay, and Movable Type is best if you believe “you get what you pay for” and can afford to pay the price to get better than a volunteer effort – though depending on your philosophy on the Internet and your exact needs, WordPress may still be best. (No less than the government of Great Britain uses WordPress to host its site.) It may be ideal to take the path I took – build an audience on Blogger and take it to a self-hosted WordPress site when it gets big enough.

Honestly, not only did I grow frustrated with Blogger over the years, I’ve started to distrust it a little; use of Blogger has started to throw up a red flag of amateurism for me, especially the use of variants of the default Minima template, which is used by some of my favorite blogs. The effect is mitigated with the use of templates that at least look original, and when people have their own domain it reminds me less that it’s a Blogspot blog, but there’s still that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I can’t shake while reading something like Awful Announcing: why aren’t they at least using WordPress?

I saw why WordPress is so beloved shortly after starting experimenting with it. It was loaded with so many features that I could use. It wasn’t so clunky as to eat the code I tried to feed into it (see: my first attempt at Da Countdown). Some of the problems surrounding draft posts, such as the matter of finding them if I stopped working on them and wanted to come back to them later (something that led me to start scheduling unfinished posts), as well as some of the patches Blogger tried to put on, such as the inaccurate post time for all unscheduled posts that led Blogger to tweak the posting settings, as well as some of the quirks of scheduled posts, aren’t an issue with WordPress, which has a “last saved draft” field allowing you to schedule a post without making it leave draft mode. And WordPress’ “pages” allows me to create my own, custom, “about me” page.

More important to you, WordPress doesn’t make it complicated to post a comment – you won’t be tempted to post as “Anonymous” anymore when you wouldn’t normally do so. Just fill out your name, e-mail, and if you have a web site a link to it, and you’re all set. And because of the Akismet spam protection system you don’t have to fill out a CAPTCHA anymore either, which is really more trouble than it’s worth since it only protects against automated, not human, spam, and automated systems can easily crack it. (If your comment doesn’t show up, don’t panic; wait 24 hours to see if it shows up. After that, contact me with a copy of your comment; there is some anecdotal evidence of Akismet eating comments without the capability of accessing them, but if so it’s so rare that on the thread I looked at, WordPress couldn’t even reproduce it.) Tomorrow I’ll launch the new forums to complement the site and the comments, which I’ll have more detail on then.

And perhaps most of all, WordPress has a robust system of “categories”, including the ability to make subcategories. WordPress also has “tags” and my initial instinct was to make all of my labels tags, since that was what they seemed to resemble, and only make those labels that bore the most resemblance to subsites into categories, so I was a bit frustrated when WordPress wanted to convert them all to categories by default without giving me a choice. But after reading up on the distinction between the two (it seeems tags are mostly a search engine helper) I decided that the way I use labels, it made the most sense to convert all labels into categories.

Because of my various interests, I always intended to create various subsites once I moved to to house my various projects in various fields. Because of that, because of the presence of subcategories, because of the decision to make Da Blog the front page of, and because of the intricities of the move itself, I have made several changes to the category structure, with virtually all categories affected:

  • All categories are now properly capitalized.
  • The “100 Greatest Movies Project” label is now a subcategory of “movies”.
  • “About Me” remains as-is but may, in the future, be split into multiple categories.
  • “Advertising” is now a subcategory of “Web Site News”. As I’ve said before, most important information about ads will now come via Twitter.
  • “Astronomy” is now a subcategory of “Science”.
  • “Blog News” is now a subcategory of “Web Site News”. The exact role of both “Blog News” and “Web Site News” given the merger of the two, the further splitting of the blog into subsites, and the role of Twitter, is undetermined at this point.
  • Because not all formatting was preserved when importing all the old posts from Da Blog, and because comments will not be associated with any other comments you make going forward, the “Classic Da Blog” category will be extended to include all posts before last week, and will no longer be just a quick way to get Technorati to update correctly. (By the way, 5vjhdtuzmg I forgot how much I hated Technorati Profile.)
  • “College Football Lineal Title”, “College Football Schedule”, and “College Football Rankings” are all now subcategories of “College Football”.
  • The just-launched new category “Constitution” is now a subcategory of “Politics”, as are both the Democratic and Republican Platform Reviews.
  • “Election 2008” is also now a subcategory of “Politics”, and “Election 2008 Live Blog” is in turn a subcategory of “Election 2008”.
  • “Education Policy”, “Foreign Affairs”, and “Health Care”, all categories used solely in the platform reviews, are now subcategories of “Politics”.
  • “General TV Business” is now just “TV Business”. See below.
  • “Human Nature” is now a subcategory of “Philosophy”, two categories neither of which with very many posts.
  • There is a new “Random Internet Discovery” subcategory of “Internet Adventures”.
  • “IRL” and “NASCAR” are now subcategories of “Auto racing”.
  • “Microsoft” is now a subcategory of “Computer geekery”, two categories that may never be used again.
  • “MLS” is now a subcategory of “Soccer”.
  • “News You Can Use” is now a subcategory of “My Comments on the News”; both its posts were members of that category already.
  • “NFL Lineal Title” is now a subcategory of “NFL”. “NFL Superpower Rankings” has been deleted, and all the posts it contained moved to “Superpower Rankings” which has been made a subcategory of “NFL”.
  • “Non-UFC MMA” has been renamed “MMA” and “UFC” has been made a subcategory of it.
  • “Fantasy Football” is now a subcategory of “NFL”.
  • “Simulated CFB Playoff” is now “Golden Bowl Simulated CFB Playoff” and a subcategory of “College Football”.
  • “SNF Flex Scheduling Watch” is now a subcategory of “NFL”.
  • “Sports in general” is now simply “Sports” and all sports categories have been made subcategories of it, as have “Sports TV Business”, “Sports TV Graphics” and “Sports Watcher”. “NFL” and “College football” are now subcategories of a new “Football” category, and “NBA”, “College basketball” and “WNBA” are now subcategories of a new “Basketball” category. All my sports posts are available at, as are the old Morgan Wick Sports features.
  • “TV Upfronts” is now a subcategory of “TV Business”.
  • “Webcomic news” is now “Sandsday”, a subcategory of itself, and a subcategory of “Web site news”. (To clarify: “Web site news” now contains a subcategory “Webcomic news”, which contains a subcategory “Sandsday”, which contains all the old “Webcomic news” posts.)
  • “Webcomics” is now hosted at and is loaded with new features, including an index to reviews, tags for each webcomic mentioned in a post, new categories for full-fledged reviews and reviews of webcomics blogs, a new “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis” category for both the series itself and the ongoing blog thereof, and an index to said series, with potentially more features to come. (Note: The review index and index to “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis” are not linkable at this time. I’ll tweet and remove this note when they are.)

In addition, all web site features have new addresses, and may not be immediately accessible:

  • (the Greatest Movies Project) is now at
  • (Morgan Wick Sports) is now at It may be a while before this section of the site returns to full functionality, and when it does everything will be at a new URL. Watch the Twitter feed to find out when everything is restored, and where to find it.
  • (the Street Sign Gallery) is now at
  • (Sandsday) is now at I’m still trying to translate the PHP from PHP 4 to PHP 5, so it won’t be linked to there until then.

For the time being, the Premier ad is being shut down, as it doesn’t translate easily to the new site. I’ll continue working out the kinks throughout the week and will remain up, but not maintained; in a year my Freehostia account will lapse and that site will no longer work.

It’s a new day on Let’s go boldly forward into the future.

The last notice of links to Da Blog

Remember when I said the new Tweeter wasn’t for advertisers? I lied.

Effective immediately, I will no longer acknowledge links to Da Blog on Da Blog. It makes me come off as desperate for attention. Instead all such notices will come only on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter if you’re an advertiser interested in knowing when I get linked to.

Now, then, here are the last two links to Da Blog you’ll find on Da Blog. First, the ArtPatient blog linked to my 8BT review and I suspect will be linking to my webcomic reviews on a fairly full-time basis from now on. Yay, an important milestone on the road to being respected as a webcomic reviewer!

Wait, what’s this? My post from yesterday is a “Related Article” “around the web” for Fanhouse’s examination of whether anyone else will win 10 NBA titles, behind only articles from SI and USA Today?


Sorry, advertisers, the new tweeter isn’t for you!

So I decided to take a look at my Project Wonderful account for the first time in a while because I noticed the Sandsday ad box was significantly higher than I was anticipating.

The first thing I noticed was that Project Wonderful spruced things up a little while I wasn’t looking. I can login right from the front page, for example.

The next thing I noticed? Despite only 8 page views a day (down from the height of the post-Komix era), Sandsday is fetching about 6 cents a day, while far more significantly viewed ad boxes (as in, 20-30) fetch only 1 cent a day, including on the Morgan Wick Sites in general.

So if you really, really want to advertise on Sandsday, you could actually get a bargain advertising to significantly more people that read Da Blog, not just the smaller comic audience!

Oh, and I finally crossed the $10 barrier needed to take some money out of my account. But that’s trivial.

(Wait… I think I forgot to tag my Twitter post as “webcomic news”. So, I have a new Twitter feed, it’s on the sidebar, sign up and get alerts the instant I post a new comic instead of whenever Komix’ trawlers happen by!)

Odd, very odd.

Want to know why today’s strip is so late?

I was preparing for various extraneous things related to the strip (including the basis for what I hope will be a long-term traffic influx) a little after 1 when I dozed off.

When I woke up, it was almost 4.

And that was only the beginning of the madness.

I don’t know if it’s the universe telling me not to launch into this project I’m about to launch into or not… either way, expect the strip to be posted at 9 or 10 AM PT the rest of the week.

Because someone claimed Part V of “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis” didn’t count as February’s OOTS post. Also, mega MEGA spoilers.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized four words… or maybe three. An epic strip deserves an epic post linked to from the OOTS forum, so look for a traffic influx.)

A lot can happen when you’re on a deserted island where the only other people to step foot on it are an imp, a pissed-off dragon, and three fiends.

If you’ve been reading The Order of the Stick at all in the current book (at least when it wasn’t focused on Haley, Celia, and Belkar), or even if you’ve been reading my OOTS posts, you know that Vaarsuvius has been undergoing a slow descent into madness out of his/her desperation to reunite the group and get Roy resurrected.

V has not slept tranced in a long time, with accompanying decline of his/her mental faculties, and quite a bit of physical deterioration as well, with his/her hair and clothes becoming dissheveled and (strangely purple) veins showing. He/she’s tried virtually everything to get something, anything through to her good friend Haley – homemade scrying spell, messenger birds, the works – but despite taking part in as many battles as he/she can to collect as much XP as he/she can, nothing’s cracked the Cloister she doesn’t even know exists (well, except the birds, but that didn’t end well). In the meantime his/her singleminded devotion to contacting Haley has led to becoming rather estranged from Durkon and Elan, and rather unwilling to tolerate any sort of distraction. This came to a head late in the 500s, the last time we checked in on that half of the Order, when Daimyo Kubota, chief villain for nearly a hundred strips, plotter to overthrow Hinjo, fresh from poisoning his ex-assassin Therkla to death, freshly surrendered to Elan’s custody, suddenly gets taken out by a single Disintegrate from Vaarsuvius, who asks, “Can we PLEASE resume saving the world?”

Kubota may have been a red herring all along, but his disposal is itself important as part of V’s ongoing descent. (And Elan’s character development, but that’s a story for another day.) Elan’s argument with V on the rightness of the move leads to V dismissing Therkla as a “bundle of experience points”, insinuating Elan had an affair with her when he categorically didn’t, and ultimately threatening to take out Elan himself. At this point, V becomes convinced (s)he could no longer continue his/her studies on the boat – not out of fear for retribution, but because of the constant distractions of having to deal with this quest or that one, and even more so, the lack of any help from Durkon or Elan (who (s)he doesn’t even guarantee (s)he’ll contact back should (s)he find Haley). Elan sends him/her off and covers for him/her despite having said he wouldn’t, and the real villain here, Qarr, takes off after him/her.

At this point – and this greatly added to the anticipation for #600 and the impact when it turned out to be a switch back to Roy and an anticlimax – it looked for all the world as though V’s infamous “four words” were imminent.

As OOTS has developed a rather complex plot, one of the guiding principles of forum speculation has been the prophecies given to the group by the Oracle of Sunken Valley. So far, two have already come to pass: Haley‘s, and Belkar’s. All in all, three prophecies were cryptic (Haley, Belkar, and V), while the other three were relatively straightforward (Roy (if unhelpful), Durkon, and Elan… although Elan’s leans more towards the cryptic side, and indeed is almost as cryptic as Belkar’s, it’s also not as conducive to speculation because people don’t like to think about the end of the strip). With two of the cryptic prophecies out of the way, that leaves V’s prophecy as one of the most talked-about single panels in the history of the strip (though Belkar’s prophecy got plenty of play back in the day).

Vaarsuvius asks “how (he/she) will attain ultimate arcane power”, and the Oracle responds that it will come “by saying the right four words to the right being at the right time for all the wrong reasons”.

For three hundred strips, nearly half the strip’s entire existence, that sentence has touched off almost as much debate as the question of V’s gender or the exact nature of that thing in the dark – and as V’s descent has progressed, forum speculators have taken to looking for any four-word string to come out of his mouth to, ultimately, turn out to be the four words that trigger “ultimate arcane power”, often completely ignoring the rest of the sentence. (To show how ridiculous it can get, one theory that was actually rather popular was that when V disintegrated Kubota, she actually said the four words as “Disintegrate. Gust of Wind”, the latter scattering Kubota’s ashes into the sea.) V’s descent into madness seemed to be a perfect moment of weakness, especially as #599 ended. Anyone could see what would happen next: Qarr would tempt V with the promise of ultimate arcane power, and V would say the right four words to agree to the deal.

As it turned out (and we would have to wait for an interlude with Haley’s group before finding this out), that’s not quite how it would happen… and it seems ridiculous in retrospect that the whole deal could be completed in a single strip. And we would have been a lot poorer if that was how it happened.

You see, Vaarsuvius may be sleep trance-deprived, but he/she’s not stupid. He/she can see what’s coming just as well as anyone else could. So when Qarr tempts him, not even with the catch being any sort of damnation (or hidden entirely), but merely helping him with “a certain project of my own”, V goes almost directly to the Disintegration finger. V wasn’t about to sell his soul over this minor setback; he’s going to solve his problem on his own, without any infernal assistance.

Funny how fast circumstances can change.

Right at that moment, an ancient black dragon shows up and proceeds to own V’s ass. She explains that she’s the mother of a dragon V killed nearly 450 strips earlier (nearly three fourths of the strip has passed in the interim), waiting and watching for V to first leave the boat and then use up all his spells fighting Qarr. But for her vengeance, she won’t kill V; that would be too easy. Instead, she’ll make V suffer the same pain she feels by eating V’s own children, bind their souls to herself to frustrate any attempt at simply reviving them, and leaving the material plane for good so V can’t locate her ever again.

The dragon pops out, and just like that V’s relationship with Qarr is drastically changed. Unable to come up with any way to save his/her kids even using Qarr, V is left practically begging him to arrange some sort of Faustian deal. Qarr warns him/her that the chances of success are low, the response time is long, and so will the process of filling out the paperwork even if it does happen, but almost instantly an envelope appears from the “IFCC”, and out pops three fiends in hoods and robes.

The fiends – representing the “Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission”, out to broker a truce between the respective Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic Evil fiendish populations, who see V as a test case to prove their point – look pretty much exactly like the fiends Sabine was seen reporting to upon learning of the gates, to the extent that the forums are basically taking the idea that they’re the same as given. They offer to perform a “once-in-a-century” “Soul Splice”, grafting the souls of three powerful conjurers to V’s own, giving V power that would “dwarf that wielded by any ar[c]ane spellcaster who has ever lived” (since it’s double the power of just one fiend performing the Splice), which V would have complete control over for as long as V holds on to it. V won’t even get eternal damnation, only time with each fiend equal to the amount of time (s)he holds on to the splice.

Would you take the deal? To save your children’s lives, and their souls?

With regard to the Seven Deadly Sins, it’s easy to associate Faustian deals with Avarice or Envy. Someone wants some goal – youth, money, power – and is willing to sell his soul to the Devil to get it. Occasionally it’s Wrath, such as wanting revenge against some particular person or group. It’s far from unheard of for someone to sell their soul for rather benign, understandable ends, such as reversing a spell of bad luck (The Devil and Daniel Webster), where usually the problem (if there’s presented as being one) is having too much of a concern for earthly things rather than the glories of Heaven, or even (theoretically) for noble purposes, such as to give up your own soul for that of another or for a greater good. At first glance, this deal might appear to fall into this last category, where Vaarsuvius is sacrificing his/her own soul for not one, but two or three others, and the chief objection to these being the “four words” on the forums was that saving his/her family was hardly the “wrong reasons”. Personally, I felt it was sufficiently wrong given the larger context and the other priorities, especially if you read V’s motivation in the context of revenge, but that’s just heartless old me. But even if it was, that wouldn’t be nearly as rich of a motivation, or nearly as tragic a fall. This is an odd case of a Faustian deal being made primarily out of pride.

Already frustrated by his/her inability to find Haley and Co., Vaarsuvius is out to prove that arcane magic can solve his/her problems, and that leaving his/her home to study it wasn’t a complete waste of time that only cost her his family. There may well be several ways to save the day at less cost, and if there aren’t it’s probably better for V to just cut his/her losses rather than do something that could have far worse consequences. (Nothing says the fiends have to have his/her soul after (s)he dies.) But V is stubborn and arrogant, as we already knew, and it is proving to be his/her fatal flaw. He/she is not going to admit defeat – not for finding Haley (hence his/her problems with Durkon and Elan), not for saving his/her children, and in a broader sense, not for his/her devotion to magic. Even saving his family is secondary to proving herself right. It’s like the old saying goes, “pride cometh before a fall”, and V is falling, hard.

Rich drives the point home in the current strip (titled, in a deliberate callback to the Oracle’s prophecy and possible reference to the forumites’ problems, “The Wrong Reasons”), when the fiends present V with the alternative: kill herself, have Qarr teleport the head to Durkon and Co., be resurrected, and describe his mentor to Durkon so he can get a message through to him and get him to intervene. (Oddly, despite having a hairstyle similar to that that made me think V was female, Aarindarius seems pretty clearly male to me.) “But,” the fiends warn, “but then you would have to admit that your magic had failed you yet again. That a cleric and a monster had to run and tell Master to come clean up your mess. Hell, you couldn’t even claim to have come up with the idea, since we just gave it to you!” And the fiends know V would never do that – and the ultimate “four words” pound the message home further. This isn’t just a standard plot twist, or even a standard re-use of the Faustian deal. This is Christian morality meeting Greek tragedy, the journey into the belly of the whale (I considered making the line at the top “click for full-sized mouth of the whale”), a desperate hero’s hubris doing him/her in and leading to what will likely be a rather dear cost paid.

In Part IV of “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis”, I claimed that webcomics were not doing enough to break out of its routines, to become great literature rather than just entertain the masses (something all of comics are arguably guilty of), and that not even The Order of the Stick was “much more than a neat story for the masses, with plenty of plot upon subplot but not much in the way of subtext or meaning,” not really enough of that intangible timeless quality that would allow it to stand the test of time.

O great and powerful Rich Burlew, I hast forsaken thee, for I was wanting faith, and I was a fool to do so, and I humbly bow down before thee and beg thee for thy forgiveness. For thy story is truly great and worthy to take its place in the annals of great literature, and ist indeed in the upper eschelon of the great fantasy tales, and thy name shalt be spoken of in the same sentence with Tolkien, Lovecraft, and Pratchett. And certainly its spot in the Greatest Webcomics once the medium matures certainly seems secure now. Burlew has already presented a sort of classic tragic redemption tale with Miko, but that was fairly standard material by comparison. This is the sort of resonant, classic tragedy that’s actually rather rare in fantasy (off the top of my admittedly-not-immersed head, only Tolkien even comes close! Not coincidentially he’s the only surefire author I could think of for the above list, and the only one people could easily agree on), and it shows just how surprising that should be, how well-fit the trappings of fantasy really are for this sort of thing.

Cleverly, Rich has left some room for error as to whether or not these are really the “four words”, because two of them are really a stutter, they seem shoehorned in at the last minute and not really relevant or causal, and the fiends’ alternative is hopelessly convoluted, not guaranteed to work, and even assuming the fiends are telling the truth about the circumstances would take comparatively too long. It’s plausible – V says the four words, to him/herself, right as time is running out on the offer and time resumes, and for very, very wrong reasons – but the debate is allowed to go on as we wonder whether there’s even more ultimate arcane power awaiting him, the current debacle only sending V spiraling down the path of despair as he gets a taste of true power, leading to even more wrong reasons and even wronger reasons.

Who says comics can’t be art?

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.

I’m pretty sure this is the post I intended to post on Thursday but forgot.

One of the things Robert A. Howard accosted me for in his comment-rant a little over a week ago was my tendency to squee like a fangirl at any links whatsoever.

Now, the main reason I post whenever I get linked, aside from being convinced that this is the link that will bring me everlasting fame and I want to commemorate the moment, is to alert potential advertisers of traffic bumps, so they can bump up their bids accordingly. However, I’m not sure it’s particularly useful for that purpose. Most people probably use Project Wonderful’s “campaign” feature to place their bids, which automatically scale to match current traffic, and PW also provides its own tools to alert bidders of important links, albeit from a select list of traffic generators. Find out more here, although I’m not even sure if this system still works. (Not to say that you can’t get on to Da Blog bidding by hand – I did so successfully on what was really a test bid on a couple of webcomics advertising for Sandsday, though I think I only showed up on one. If that makes any sense.)

So in a new Da Blog Poll that’s been running since Sunday and will continue for a couple of weeks, I want to ask: do you find the acknowledgements of traffic bumps useful or annoying? Do you think they’re useful for advertising even if they are a little annoying to anyone else, or are they useless even for advertising because the acknowledgement tends to lag quite a bit behind the bump itself? You can find the poll in the sidebar, and the comment section of this post will allow you to sound off beyond just the two options on the sidebar.

Some quick notes

This post was originally planned for tomorrow, which is when the College Football Rankings will likely be delayed until. The main reason is because someone gave me another reason to post today.

Robert A. Howard somewhat belatedly commented on my post on Tangents, and mentioned that he “definitely [would] mention [Da B]log over at Tangents.” Once that comes down the pike it should result in some sort of traffic bump, although between the hiatus and then the move to the new site I suspect Tangents has bled some readers recently.

After reading that comment, I think John Solomon may have been on to something in his characterization of Howard as a suck-up. I hope he doesn’t make too many changes just because I say so, and I hope he doesn’t define his writing style entirely on what other people say it should be, but I hope he knows what’s the blog he wants to write. Not that he should entirely shut himself off from the criticism of others – then he’s basically Tim Buckley, and no one wants to be that – but I think most people want to read “Tangents by Robert A. Howard,” not “Tangents by Eric Burns(-White), John Solomon, Morgan Wick, and a gazillion others”.

I’m trying to take it easy with this post. I slated quite a few things to put on Da Blog during the break, not least of them being a resumption of my platform reviews and another political feature to run during the summer, which I would work on now so they wouldn’t become a repeat of the platform reviews later, and so that I could work on several posts at once. But with my limited Internet access time, most of my time has been dominated by what I’m doing for Da Blog now. I haven’t even been able to look for any jobs, even for just during the break.

It doesn’t help that I don’t have the services of the local public library available during the winter break (don’t ask why), unlike in summer, and Seattle just got hit with the Cold Snap of the Century right AFTER it wouldn’t have mattered so much to me, so sitting outside and using the Internet, either stealing it from someplace else or using the city of Seattle’s on-again-off-again public connection, is a good way to get frostbite. I also don’t have the services of running just outside the house briefly anyway; the only connection left that’s a block or so from my house is far more inconsistent than what I’ve used before. (A nearby business has repeatedly offered to allow me to sit inside, but for at least two reasons I doubt I would like its atmosphere.) I burned my one real shot at using the Internet at a place I would have to pay for in a context where it netted me about an hour and a half, most of it not used on anything productive. I’m using the Internet four nights a week at a place where the only reason I don’t pay for it is because my dad works here, and it’s still technically mooching off another place’s connection.

And Da Blog and Sandsday are the closest things I have to any sort of income… I had been hoping to use the winter break as a time to wind down and relax before redoubling my efforts to get schoolwork done in the new quarter, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.