Hi folks. Hope you’ve been enjoying the return of Z&F for a brand new season! I promised you a big announcement, and here it is…. broken down into 3 parts. I’m going to try not to drone on too long or get too mushy, but also give you the honest insight you deserve as dedicated readers and friends. Alright, let’s dig in, shall we?
1. After 9 years, Zorphbert & Fred is coming to an end.
Ouch, it hurts to even write that. I’ve been writing & drawing this comic for NINE years, and when I think about my life around the time I started Z&F, it feels like eons away. It’s a huge part of my life, and looking back my teenage and adult life seems divided into the “Leftovers” years (my previous comic strip), and the Z&F years. It’s almost like a significant other, a long-standing job, or a house, in that way. I’ll get into the WHY’S in point #2, but just know this wasn’t an easy decision to accept.
Here’s the details. I’m a completionist and finish what I start, and I’m also a bit anal retentive and a shortened final book would drive me nuts. So, the length of this final season is based on how many strips I need to get done to complete Volume 4, and have the same 200 comics as in the first 3 volumes. I did the math (I know, EEK math!) and to get to comic #800, drawing up 3 a week, I should post my final comic in July. Barring any crazy life events, of course. Now, if you recall my new business model, this season I’ll draw up 3 comics a week, BUT only post 2 (on Mondays and Wednesdays). That means if you buy Volume 4, you’ll get about 33% NEW, never-seen-before comics! Plus all the usual special bonus content as well, of course. Also, to keep my workload down, I decided to do these final 100 comics in grayscale, as that’s how the books are printed anyway, so I hope the lack of color doesn’t turn anyone away (past traffic stats showed no real difference between color and grayscale comics anyway).
For those of you whom are curious, yes I know how this all ends; I’ve had the story brewing in my brain for a while now. No I’m not hinting at it. Yes, it’ll be posted online, I wouldn’t keep that from the masses ;0)
2. Why I’m Retiring Z&F
This is a multi-layered complex issue. It’s not something you wake up and realize. It’s something you dwell on for a while and come to accept as the best choice for all involved. Hey, how about some more numerical breakdowns?
- When artists aren’t 100% feelin’ it, it shows in the final product. Certainly, I don’t want it to become apparent that my heart isn’t in it as much as it used to be. The need for longer breaks and feeling overwhelmed and drained are signs. While I can churn up some inspiration and enjoy drawing, I think it’s getting harder to hang on to that passion… for whatever the reason.
- I have other ideas I want to tap into, ones I can’t reveal quite yet. I’m feeling that strong sense of inspiration and excitement when brainstorming about these, and I struggle to find that at times for Z&F. And I know what I can and can’t handle; 2 comics at the same time isn’t possible.
- Even besides the lack of passion and excitement, I’m sensing Z&F itself has run it’s course…. the over-arching story, the character development, the humor. You see it in sitcoms; when the characters become flat, the storylines bring nothing new, and the jokes are rehashed…. it’s time to wrap it up. “Jumping the shark”, if you will. I don’t think I’ve gotten to that point YET… but I have an inkling I may be approaching it.
That said, I have enough left to say (ie: to make fun of humans) for a final 1o0 comics… and I know you’ll enjoy it. This will be a truly GRAND Finale!
3. What Else is in Store!
Part of what will make the Grand Finale so great is a project I have been wanting to do, but haven’t had the nerve. I’m going to be super frank with you all… even though it tears down those “professional all-about-the-presentation” walls. I allow my biggest fears make decisions for me sometimes. My guess is we’ve all dealt with this in some form. In terms of my cartooning career, I’ve had 2 main fears: public failure, and public speaking. Over the past 2 years or so, I have been taking baby steps to address public speaking, such as forcing myself to do panels at conventions (with other artists). At Baltimore Comic Con in 2014 I even hosted a kids’ drawing workshop ALL BY MYSELF! Every baby step makes future similar scenarios all the more easy to deal with. One of my New Years resolutions for 2015 was to do MORE workshops and community events. Already I have signed up to do a young adults cartooning workshop on February 8th at 11am at the Boscov’s at Granite Run Mall near me.
The other fear is a public failure; one that’s plastered online for all to see…. it breaks down those “professional all-about-the-presentation” walls we as aspiring/up-and-coming artists HAVE to build up to convince others to give your work a chance. One topical example of a public failure would be an unsuccessful Kickstarter…. when your friends and fans see that your Kickstarter is only 32% funded towards the end of the campaign… well, it could alter their perception of you, and hurt your brand. So now you know why I have never run a Kickstarter. Well, partly… my books are B&W instead of color and that’s cheap enough for me to use a print-on-demand service. If I did require a Kickstarter to print books, well… there may not be Z&F books. The thought that I wouldn’t get enough pull…. even with how many supporters I seem to have both online at at conventions…. and my Kickstarter would fail….. it’s handicapped me. But not anymore. As part of my grand finale, I will run a Kickstarter for…. *drumroll* ZORPHBERT & FRED PLUSHES! It will also coincide with the release of Z&F Volume 4, so you can pre-order it along with the plushes if you like.
Now, the details on this are fuzzy (no pun!) at the moment. I actually have a choice between using a large custom plush manufacturer that’s been recommended, or a cohort on the “con circuit” whom is an awesome seamstress and designs plushes herself. The idea of teaming up with another independent artist for a dual-creator-owned-kickstarter sounds tremendously awesome, but we have to ensure it’ll be do-able. I’ll work on this behind the scenes for now, but look for this finale project come June or July.
Okay, so it was a long-winded rambling novel anyway, but I did have a lot to say. I hope you guys understand my reasons to retire the comic, and are as excited for my future works as I am. I mean, I cannot see far enough into the future to know for certain Z&F will NEVER come back into play…. but as of now I’m not going to give you any false impressions. When I think back to my drunkduck.com days, and realize just how many friends I made then that still support me and read Z&F now.. it’s amazing. You all are amazing. With the enormous mess of webcomics there are whizzing by online each second, the fact that you chose, and keep choosing, to keep coming back here… well, that’s flattering more than you’ll ever know. Your help on social media- the likes, shares, retweets and more… it’s much appreciated even if I’m not there to say it each time. Those of you who come out to see me at shows, and support me however you can, you make the lugging and hauling and long hours during my ONE break a week all worth it. (By the way… my 2015 schedule has been posted!) I have this strong community of readers and fellow artists whom I know will be there for me when I return with a brand new comic… and that’s plenty awesome.
Now, enjoy 6+ months of free new comics, hope to see you on the “con circuit”, and come June & July get ready for one heckuva BANG at the end of this journey!
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