Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Plywood No More
I'll probably have more to say on this at some later time, but in short: we're no longer making Plywood. I won't swear that we won't get back to it, someday. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
There are a few reasons why. First, real life kept getting in the way. Even a comic made with screenshots takes a few hours to generate, when you figure in setup time, posing, script writing, lettering, and piecing it all together. I can't imagine how real webcomic artists manage to do all that in addition to creating the art by hand. This little sideline has greatly increased my respect for comic artists that create their work day after day, serveral times a week.
The rest are more personal. I'm only speaking for myself here. After doing this for a while, I had to stop and look at my motivations. In the beginning, I started out doing this for fun, and for the satisfaction of entertaining my readers. Good goals, low expectations. But, as time went on, my expectations changed. And I'm not proud of that. Working for fame and acclaim is a mugs game, folks. I spent all my time thinking, someday, I'd be famous (at least in SL) for my work, and resenting the movers, shakers, and FIC makers for not giving me what I thought was my due. Moments of recognition were fleeting, and 95% of the people I met answered with "What's Plywood?" followed by polite nods and forced smiles. That is quite embarrassing, believe me.
Don't get me wrong, there have been a few people who have been very supportive and complimentary. And I appreciate it! It makes me feel like an ungrateful jerk that, deep down, that wasn't enough for me. It should have been, and it would have been, at the beginning. I'm just tired of expecting more, and irrationally resenting the SL community at large when I don't get it. It's petty, it's unreasonable, and it's no way to enjoy making a comic. I guess the long and short of it is I took the time to examine my motives, and I didn't like what I saw. And, frankly, it's hard to be funny when you resent the results, or the lack thereof.
I guess that's my advice as a Second Life webcomic creator: if you're going to do it, do it for fun. Do it because you enjoy making it, and because you like the thought of a small, mostly-anonymous audience smiling at it before they move on with their own lives and Second Lives. Don't go into it expecting fame. Don't expect acclaim. Don't expect praise. Don't expect this to be your in-road into the FIC, or whatever other clique you think you want to run with. And for the love of Pete, don't do it expecting to make real money at it! You'll be disappointed, I guarantee. And your work will suffer. This is a hobby. It's not a job, and it's not a stepping stone.
(Incidentally, expecting to make money at this is the fastest way I can think of to a bitter, and short lived, series. In our case, we ended up losing money on our one and only in-game compilation sale. That was discouraging, to say the least. It's tempting to measure your success and the esteem of your fan base on the strength of sales figures. Don't do it. Think hard about why you want to sell an in-game copy of your work, whatever it might be. If it's because you expect it to be a measure of your work's worth, think again. If you expect to make money, well, wake up. Not going to happen.)
So, that's that. I'm now "that guy that used to make that webcomic, what was it called again?" I'm working hard to get to the point where I feel proud and happy about the body of work we produced, and stop feeling like a quitter, a has-been, and a wanna-be. I'm not there yet. I'm still at the anger stage of the grieving process, directed mostly at myself, but I can at least comprehend the possibility of acceptance. We'll see.
As I said, I'm sure I'll have more speculations and ruminations on the whole Second Life webcomic thing. I'm not above milking a dead project to increase my post count. But, in the meantime, I'm going to try and find an identity for myself beyond "creator of Plywood."
Say, did I tell you about this game I'm making?