So first off I want to apologize for for that unannounced break we took. A lot of things happened at once immediately after March break, and all of them came together in a really bad way. Our efforts to flood-proof our basement were in vain, both of our parents each went on several week long vacations down south, Cory’s back problems are slowly destroying him, Easter stress followed by all of us catching a really nasty virus that resulted in me rupturing my left tympanic membrane. I didn’t know that you could perforate your eardrum by blowing your nose too aggressively, but here we are.

All of these things have fixes–eternally shop-vacuuming water out of our basement, doctor visits, rest and moving my office to my bed while I try and work past the vertigo. The biggest culprit not listed above, though, deserves a little more attention and has no easy solution: Burnout. Before I say anything else, I need you to all understand that there’s no way in hell we will ever just up and stop making this comic before we make it to the end. This May we’ll have been working on it for EIGHT YEARS, and it’s going to take way more than a little burnout to make either of us throw in the towel on something we’ve poured so much time and love into.

While burnout has no EASY solution, I’ve been working really hard to figure out what caused it to happen in the first place so that we could figure out what needed to be done to snap me out of it and keep it from happening again for the same reason, at least. As far as I can figure, it was because of a lot of little things that added up into several larger problems. This chapter has been kicking my ass because it’s longer, there were SO MANY figures and distinctive characters in each scene, and more involved backgrounds which was making pages take waaaaaay longer than usual. Sometimes ten or more hours longer. There were SO MANY last minute re-writes, and there are more to come right up until the end of the last scene because of several major plot change decisions we made as the pages were being drawn, or were about to be drawn. I was also stressed about how serious the next two chapters after this one were gearing up to be before there was any avenue to release narrative tension, and was still majorly stressed out by my inability to fit re-doing the 20 pages that got nuked from book 2 into my schedule alongside new pages. I’m also still stressed about my inability to keep up with any of this, on top of bonus patreon content–for YEARS I managed to keep up with pages and still make two or more wallpapers and illustrations every month, and now I’ve been sitting on the same bonus illustration for months with no time to spare for it. I was so ahead, and suddenly being so perpetually behind was destroying my ability to get anything done at all.

So what’s the complicated solution, if there’s no easy one, then? Well:

1) At least until September, I’ll be dropping down to one update a week, regardless of how many pages I output. Building a buffer is essential and every other way that I’ve tried to do it has fallen flat. I’ll be posting pages that get finished earlier on Patreon, which I will also be completely restructuring.

2)I’ll be inking at least one of the nuked pages with each batch of new pages that I ink. I’ll be colouring them at a later date, because going back and forth between 2 different lighting dynamics is confusing and will waste more time than it saves.

3) When this chapter ends I’ll be taking a week or 2 off to plan the next chapter out with Cory. If step one is working as intended, you probably won’t even know I’m doing this because I’ll have at least a few pages in the queue. I’ll be doing this for all future chapters as well, and I’ll be adjusting that planning period based depending on how this one goes. I’ll keep you up to date if there’s ever going to be an outage.

4) Instead of diving straight into book 4 when this chapter is over, we’ll be doing a short bonus story featuring Sam & Max since they won’t be the focus of the first chapter of the new book the way that they were in the last two. I was reading back through older chapters to make sure some continuity stuff was correct and honestly, the most excited I have ever been, and some of the best writing Cory has ever done for this comic has been for them, and even just thinking about doing this short interlude has me PUMPED for comics again in a way that Ihave been struggling to keep hold of since the midpoint of the current chapter.

Anyhow, if you made it through this essay, I am 1)sorry that it ended up being this long and 2)happy you’re still here. Here’s a quick peek at some smaller cuts of panels from the next 3 pages, which I’ll be flatting and starting to colour when I wake up. We’ll be back next Tuesday with a new page!