So 2013. Damn. Hell of a year.
In January, I decided to finally buckle down and finish a project that, if we must go all the way back, started eleven years ago. I drew a little boy with a striped red shirt and spiky blond hair and named him "Andy Christ" with a pretty decent idea of who he was and little solid concept of where I might take him. I wrote a script somewhere around 2007 that would eventually, after countless edits, become the first two books in 2013. July 1st saw the release of my first ever finished full length comic book. The second was released in September. On December 6th (my 30th birthday, uuuggghhh), I released this thing and made a lot of people very sick:
I have mixed feelings about those first two books. There's a lot I'd do differently these days. The art's not up to the level of quality I'd like it yet, the characters are at times a bit one-dimensional, the storyline is simple but still a bit of a mess with all the jumping around in time, and neither book exactly captures the "spirit" of how I'd like an Andy Christ book to feel, somewhere between the meandering cuteness of Episode 1's earlier bits with the brutal horror of Episode 2's back end. Funnily enough, Slushy the Snowman may be the closest I've gotten. The art is simple but reasonably assured (I made a mistake drawing it on smaller paper, I now realize) and the story exists somewhere in the space between innocent, childlike whimsy and horrible reality. It's heartfelt but dark, cute but scatological, sad and funny. It draws the most consistent laughs of anything I've released so far. It feels a little like an Andy Christ Saturday morning cartoon.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm very proud of these books. They are finished and I do not intend on going back to awkwardly insert a stormtrooper riding a Dewback in the background of the orphanage's parking lot. But like the new year, every new project should be about learning from the mistakes of the previous.
On that note, what to look forward to in 2014? Episode 3 saw an odd development cycle that will unfortunately be pushing the release back a bit. I don't have a date set yet. Conventional webcomic wisdom is to never stop releasing. But I've had a solid six months now of non-stop updates so I forgive me for taking a break. Not a "break," mind you, as I'm working on these pages every day. In striving to top my work so far, the story concept went through countless permutations, the script has been rewritten five times, and I'm going for a sixth as I finish pages. Episode 3 is tighter, more consistently funny, action-packed, and character-driven than anything I've released so far. I'm not screwing around but I am also not rushing. The first two books had so many panels where I'd surrendered to time and said "Good enough." I don't want to do that anymore. The website also needs work. I don't think most people are even aware that my books are for sale or that they come with extra stuff. I need to figure out how to make that more obvious.
A little teaser: Episode 3: The Void will follow Andy and Frooky's journey through Limbo, the way station between Earth and Hell. They will send someone to Hell, walk the Hall of Mediocrity, and encounter the Stygians, the vicious and tragically stupid bottom feeders of Hell. We will learn a lot about Frooky and come to understand how and why a demon became best friends with a six-year-old boy. We'll finally get to see a bit of the world outside Andy's orphanage: Synapze Tower, Desolation Row, and Frooky's favorite strip club, the Hellcat... I swear this makes sense in context.
I am HOPING to again release the full paid book just as the first page releases free. We'll see how it goes. Many pages will be cut in half in the free release, which will be more conducive to the webcomic format and should give me a hell of a lot more lead time to get these books right. I'm not sure yet if I'll stick to the current Monday-Friday release schedule or go back to M-W-F. It all comes down to time, and I still have so little of that.
When Episode 3 releases, I'm going to do a little something special with the first two. They will be released again with the bonus comics, "Slushy the Snowman" and "Monster," in full color. Original buyers will get these free. I'm also looking into getting them to work on Kindle, so you can read Andy Christ books on the go without hassle. I'll keep you updated.
If you've stuck with me thus far, sincerely, THANK YOU. If you've commissioned work from me, BIIIG THANK YOU. I'll be making a huge marketing push leading up to 3's release. In the meantime, if you could, if you like what I've done so far, please, show your friends my silly little comic. Even if you hate it, even if it's just to say "GRRAARGH, look, this guy totally ripped off Tim Burton/Jhonen Vasquez/Naruto(?...yes, I've totally heard this one)." If you bought it, send them the PDF. Share. I'm not greedy. More eyes are more important than more money. We need those eyes to keep this dream (nightmare) going. Like Andy Christ on Facebook. Follow Andy Christ on Twitter. Get the word out. 2014 is all about expanding. The more readers I get, the closer I get to making this into a reasonable income supplement, the faster I should be able to get books made for you guys.
Didn't intend to ramble and don't know where to stop. So I'll shut up now. Thank you guys again for making this my most productive, creative, and encouraging year ever. Let's make 2014 even better.