What now?on January 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm
The idea for starting Eat The Babies! was this – I’m a writer. I have written some things. No one has read those things. I would like for them to be read.
Traditional publishing appears to be a game of chance, but one in which some folks have loaded dice and others don’t even know where the tables are. Whenever I manage to unpack any of the stories I hear about people who break through, the common theme I usually discern is this: they knew someone. That could just be an excuse on my part, but my grandpa told me years and years ago that it’s not what you know it’s who you know – and he’s not the first person who ever said that. So I can’t help but think it’s true (plus, I am old enough now to see that it is certainly true in the worlds where I have done some work).
While I know more people than almost anyone I know, I don’t seem to know the people who can help me with that. So. There’s this Internet thing.
I had the idea that maybe I could ask the Internet for help. My idea was create this thing that I had been hankering to start creating again for a while anyway, give it away and then, maybe, if people liked it, some percentage of them would start to buy my books as I rolled them out online.
That seemed feasible.
Knowing that there were upwards of 40,000 webcomics already out there, I decided I wouldn’t chase the main veins that seemed to be common out there. I wouldn’t do a jokey comic where every strip ended with a silly punchline and I wouldn’t do a sci-fi or fantasy narrative. I wanted to set out on my own. Since I have been drawing this TV character here, there and everywhere for a long time, I thought I would do something with him.
I had listened to Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up a couple times and thought that I might be able to imitate his approach to stand-up in comics. Of course, he had been doing stand-up for a while and I was just starting my webcomic. The idea was to do a funny comic without jokes. If that sounds impossible, well, I’m not sure it is but maybe I wasn’t the guy to do it? That’s why so many of these comics were so… weird. They were aimed at being unexpected. At coming at ideas in comics in a different way and/or ending in a different place than most comics would end it. Gag-less.
Was it a gamble? I don’t think so. It didn’t work, but I don’t think I would have done any better doing a gag comic or a narrative comic.
So my point is this – I have done 200 comics now and I have worked at this for about two years and I am really no closer than I ever was to having an audience that can help move my books. Worse, the effort I am putting in to get the comics out is getting in the way of me making books – so if the books were always the priority and the comics aren’t helping, why am I still doing them?
I have talked to a bunch of people over the last few weeks about this question and most have them have said, “if you like making the comics then you should just keep making them.” I think it’s a polite way of saying, “there’s nothing about the things you are doing that make sense to me so I don’t really know why you are asking me this question.” Fair enough.
The truth is that I can’t just do things because I like doing them. I like doing way, way too many things. By that standard, I’d be playing Ultimate Frisbee all the time, too. But I gave up playing Ultimate years ago for the same reason. I need to focus in on achieving something and Eat the Babies! does not seem to be working. Do I just need to hold on? Is this the slow slow build on the road to the eventual exponential growth curve?
It doesn’t feel that way. It doesn’t feel like this site has grown at all in two years. You need some growth to hit that growth curve. And I also wonder that – if comics are part of my future – whether or not this comic isn’t a bit too saddled by its own history to move forward much? if there isn’t something to the idea that this idea of what Eat The Babies! was meant to be is crushing what it could be?
Just not sure.
The most important factor is this: I have quit my job to devote serious time to my creative work – but the clock is ticking. And it is ticking fast. I need to put the most effort in where there seems to be some sign or hope of success. My podcast has some hope and writing has always been the top priority, so those seem like the places to emphasize. I have far from infinite time and energy. So since Eat the Babies! does not appear to be getting me anywhere, I need to make the hard call and kill it.
So, the current plan is to pull the plug on this webcomic on its two year anniversary – February 15th. Then I’ll quit updating and go off and begin work – offline – on a graphic novel that has started kicking around on my head – but work at a much less urgent level than I have been making this.
Unless, of course, there is an outpouring of interest in this strip. I’d be happy to keep going if folks gave me reason to. Not counting on that happening, thoug
Anyway, a new story will start on Friday – 12 page “Origin of TV” story and then on February 15th, the gang will bid the silent winds of the Internet their farewell – perhaps to resurface again someday.
Whatever happens, I have no near term plans to take the site down, so if anyone feels like revisiting any of these strips they will still be here for a while.
I know it sounds like this is a final decision, but it’s not. If anyone really thinks I should keep this going, please, let me know. I feel confident that this site has about three regular readers. It’s web traffic runs to about 70 visits a day, which I think is primarily one time Google stumbles. It has about 30 or 40 feedreaders, tho I am somewhat skeptical that it gets looked at in those feedreaders.
If anyone thinks this site is getting somewhere – say it. Really. It’s been met with almost complete silence for the last two years, so right now I can’t help but think that the only person I would be letting down by ending updates would be me. If I’m wrong, that would be great to know.