Although a cartoonist cannot ALWAYS cater to his/her readers, I am always open to hearing suggestions, advice and reviews from you guys. After all, you are the ones who keep Z&F going. I may have come up with the concept for the strip and have the drive to do it for 5 years now, but on those days I am just not feeling up to sitting in front of a computer to create another Z&F comic, thinking of the readers who stick by me and these little alien dog creatures helps me to focus. You have generously left me your opinions in the Z&F Survey that has been open in the past few months. Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete it. I plan to take the majority’s preferences in mind and try to implement those improvements. This means I have announcements and some changes down the road for Z&F, but first…
The results of the survey thus far:
(click to advance)
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(the survey is still open, I won’t be taking it down as new readers have opinions too!)
Some important things I took away from the survey are as listed:
- Twitter and advertising work very well in bringing in new readers!
- Despite being a family-friendly comic, my main demographic is 30-50 year old men. Interestingly enough, adults can enjoy family-friendly media as well, not just those with adult-content. And, cute still sells, despite those distracting adult-oriented comics out there!
- I figured Fred would have been the most popular character, but interestingly enough Zorphbert is by far the favorite, and most want MORE Weird Kid. Probably because we all feel a bit like the Weird Kid.. or WERE one growing up!
- The artwork is slightly stronger than the writing or jokes, which I presumed. I’m an artist first, but have a flair for telling jokes. The stories aren’t that deep or intricate- they’re supposed to be light-hearted and fun, so I would have been surprised if I got 10’s across the board for storytelling. Still, I need work in those areas.
- The people who read Z&F are generally webcomic readers, as opposed to strictly comic books or newspaper strips. Many are other creators, but not quite as many as I would have thought.
- The biggest thing I wanted to focus on were the suggestions of how to IMPROVE Z&F. I realize many of my readers just enjoy the comic and have no real criticism of it (or an idea of how to make it better), so I got a lot of “not sure”s’. The second highest on that list was “Update schedule”. This confirmed my suspicion. Since Z&F has gone down to twice a week due to my other projects (like the Abby’s Adventures kids book series), I have noticed a plateau.. even a decline.. in readership. I believe it is due to not updating as much as a gag-a-day webcomic “should”. Mind you, there are no rules carved in stone, but considering the format I work in, three times a week is the minimum for a comic like Z&F. That’s more important than being in full color, more important than blog entries, more important than a busy twitter feed. If I am serious about taking Z&F as far as it can go, my first change needs to be to the update schedule.
The Future of Zorphbert and Fred
So… here’s my new plan for this comic. I want to update THREE times a week. I’d like to find a way to add color, minimally, to help the art pop and add some interest. Finally, and this affects me more than it will the readers, I want to get a buffer started. For five years now I have been cranking out comic the very night they are due to post. This only works for those people with an extreme willpower and a schedule (*ahem* no kids) that can make it possible. Obviously, I have those 2 qualities working in my favor. However, it has been wearing on me lately… probably due to the extra workload I have taken on with the kids books and Webcomic Alliance, and I am hoping having a buffer to fall back on will help. Life just gets in the way sometimes, and having no wiggle room makes things difficult for sure.
The Changes On the Way…
To be able to crank out 3 color comics a week (and keep my buffer alive), the artwork is unfortunately going to have to be simplified. No worries- it’ll still be the same Z&F you know and love, just not quite as much detail. I am working on a formula, a system, for creating each comic AND also be able to give the “Perfectionist-Dawn-Stamp-of-Approval”.
Also, to get this buffer started, Zorphbert and Fred will have to go on hiatus for about 2 months. This will give me ample time to work on the new creation system, and stock-pile a bunch of comics in this elusive “buffer”. In the 5 years Z&F has been updating, I have rarely taken a full hiatus without some sort of contest or guest art posts to keep the site active and interesting. I may come up with an idea that won’t take up my time dedicated to padding the buffer, but I’m not guaranteeing anything. Guest comics, fanart, or whatever else you’d like to do are of course welcome, but I am not making an official request. I received so many wonderful pieces for my wedding guest art series (2 whole months worth!), I feel greedy even thinking about asking for more!
so…. to conclude…
The New & Improved Z&F will Return October 17th
This is actually the day after I return from the New York Comic Con, and my final convention of the season. It’s a great fresh start, and I’ll be looking forward to a new year of growth for Zorphbert and Fred.
Thanks again to all of you avid readers, commenters, twitter followers, and convention buddies. You make this community and experience as a creator fulfilling, more than you know.