Friday, December 13, 2013

We Have Liftoff

Tuesday's launch of my new webcomic, The Last Mechanical Monster, went far better than I'd hoped. Thank you!

Many people whose opinions I respect offered compliments I think were sincere, and my visitor numbers were through the roof. Modesty/prudence forbids me from reporting what they were (along with the fear that you'd shoot back with "That's ALL?!") but they were about 10 times higher than I expected. Traffic dropped off by about half on Wednesday and to a relative trickle on Thursday. Numbers look stronger today with the posting of a new comic (I'm putting up a new page every Tuesday and Friday) but it's early.

I know I'm in a marathon, not a sprint. Steady readership growth would make me happy. Steady (or precipitous!) decline would tell me I'm doing something wrong. I'm not planning on drawing any conclusions for at least a few months.

Like I said, it's an experiment.

Best of all, I've begun getting the type of editorial feedback I hoped for. My rule of thumb is that if one person doesn't get something, maybe he or she has a problem; if two or more people don't get something, I have a problem.

For example, two different people said that the way I drew the old Inventor made them wonder if he was a robot himself. That never occurred to me and I don't see it, but it's something I'll have to mull over and try to address. For the record, he's 100% human.

Not a robot.
Readers really like the Inventor's penchant for making lists. It's a character trait I created and love myself but I'm surprised so many people mentioned it. That's good information I can use going forward.

Yesterday I had lunch with a writer friend who'd seen the webcomic and asked me some questions that indicated (at least some) readers are catching what I want them to catch and I'm doing some proper foreshadowing. That's gratifying.

Some incidental info on process: before I launched The Last Mechanical Monster, I built up a backlog of 50 fully completed pages. I really wanted to avoid the common webcartoonists' trap of making promises I couldn't keep. If I never put ink to paper again, I have enough story already done to last through April. Of course my goal is to create at least two new pages per week to keep up with the rate of posting and maintain my cushion.

Which isn't to say the pages are locked in stone. The nine-panel grid I'm using for this story gives me some modularity--it's easy to add panels, subtract panels, or move them around in response to new story ideas and reader feedback as long as the page breaks hit the same spots. I built in that flexibility on purpose. I am occasionally clever.

If you didn't catch it, I wrote up an Author's Note/FAQ for the webcomic that has more details about what I'm up to and how I'm doing it.

Three days in, and so far it's been pretty fun. Please continue to read, recommend, comment and link. Thanks again.

1 comment:

Richard Pini said...

You're in the right (large, even cavernous, rather like Grand Central) station but on the wrong track. From years - nay, decades - of experience, it takes many more than two people not to get something for it to be your problem. Your style of drawing is, well, stylized - that's part of its charm. And yes, it's possible to interpret the appearance of the Inventor as indicative that he's robotic underneath the skin. But it's not a problem - with either the look of the art, or those readers' interpretation. It's all part of the fun of being in the driver's seat; you get to see through others' eyes and sometimes even go "Huh! I never woulda thought of that." But to paraphrase Billy Joel, don't go changing to try and please them, we like you just the way you are.