GPF News Archive

First Post Previous Post November 6, 2023


Greetings, all! It's the start of a new GPF year, so it's time for me to come out of the Cone of Silence with my should-be-annual State of the Comic address! Here's a quick run-down of what's been going on lately, and what's coming down the pipe:

GPF is officially 25 years young: Last week, on November 2nd, 2023, GPF officially celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. That's a quarter of a century, or 2.5% of a millennium. Talk about making me feel old. It's bad enough that my son is driving, about to graduate high school, and is already picking out colleges, but sheesh. I couldn't tell you how many fans over the years have told me how they've introduced GPF to their children who hadn't even been born when the comic started. I feel like I'm about to crumble into dust and blow away.

I don't have any particular celebrations planned for this milestone, mostly because I've been completely devoid of free time of late. Aside from the little "25 Years" badge in the sidebar of the main site, I haven't had time to throw together anything else. It was my original plan to completely redesign the site with a more "modern" look and finally combine the "main" and "mobile" sites into one (thus eliminating years of confusion among mobile users who don't have access to everything the "main" site has), but I ran out of time to meet the deadline. Hopefully that will come sometime in the next few months.

The Entropy War reaches the half-way mark: Our current story arc—and GPF's final story—is officially half way finished. The Entropy War started around this time last year and, as predicted, it looks like it's going to take about two years to complete. When it does, the overall GPF story itself will be done, and I officially plan to "retire" as a cartoonist.

Like anyone reaching retirement, I'm looking forward to this with a mixture of relief, excitement, exhaustion, and trepidation. I've devoted roughly half of my life thus far to this little "hobby", and it's been such a fixture that it's hard to imagine what things will be like without it.

Jeff's post-GPF plans: What I plan to do once GPF is complete are still up in the air, but I thought I'd give you a few hints on what I currently have planned:

  • Taking some well-deserved time off: Aside from little one-week hiatuses here and there, I haven't really taken a "vacation" from GPF in literal years. Even when I've taken time off from my day job, I've still be throwing comics into the queue. It will be nice to step away and do literally nothing for a while, without having the "must draw comics" monkey on my back, screaming in my ears.
  • Finally finishing Surreptitious Machinations II: Some of you may have forgotten about this, but trust me, there are quite a few out there who will never let me forget. Shortly after Surreptitious Machinations was finished, I announced a follow-up called Surreptitious Machinations II: Ashes to Ashes, which would detail exactly what happened to Empress Trudy and Todd in the immediate aftermath of our first "mega-arc". While the script has been finished for years, the art has been a lot harder to squeeze into my tight schedule. That said, once the main comic stops updating, I hope to pick this back up and finally get it out the door. The original plan for this was an exclusive, print-only book, which later morphed into a GPF Premium exclusive. Now, I imagine it will simply become part of the main archive as a "bonus" story and be freely available to all. I'll post more details as I have them.
  • Modernize the GPF site: As mentioned above, I do plan to "modernize" the GPF site by bringing it up to more current standards and making it "responsive", which will eliminate the need for a separate mobile-targeted site. In addition, I plan to "upgrade" all of the comics (or at least most of them) to a larger format to make them easier to read on today's larger displays. This will actually end up eliminating one GPF Premium feature; I plan to do away with the High-Definition archives and standardize all of the comics to a larger format. I don't currently have an ETA for this upgrade; as previously stated, I was hoping to already have it complete by now. However, I do want to get this finished before the comic ends next November.
  • Fleshing out more GPF auxiliary content: Along with refreshing the site, I intend to add more "meta content" that I've been neglecting over the years. This includes updating sections of the Wiki with more up-to-date info and adding more Author's Notes. The latter of those is particularly embarrassing to me, as this was a GPF Premium exclusive that I was contributing to regularly... until I wasn't. I am particularly frustrated with myself for this, and I want to make it up to all of you subscribers by resurrecting it.
  • Getting GPF back in print... sort of: Many of you have clamored over the years that you miss having physical GPF books to keep and/or share. I too have been frustrated by this, especially since recent, behind-the-scenes events have reminded me of GPF's heyday with print and how it all just... fell apart. Well, I want to rectify that. My short term goal is to concentrate on generating some GPF e-books, most likely in EPUB format for the greatest compatibility. These will likely encompass the comic's entire run, separating one "year" per book, with multi-year "mega-arcs" collected into a single volume. Once these are available, I hope to start searching for a print-on-demand publisher to handle physical copies for those who want them. Again, I have no ETA on this project just yet, although I've done a lot of research into the e-book option recently.
  • Concentrating on my novel writing: Since 2017, I've managed to write two and a half novels, all of which are currently unpublished. The more I look ahead to what I want to do post-GPF, the more I realize that I want to draw less and write more, and I can see myself transitioning to writing novels as my full-time "side hustle". Whether I end up self-publishing these novels or seeking a "real" publisher to handle them is still up in the air. That said, I have literally hundreds of non-GPF related stories that I've been sitting on for decades that are still waiting for me to write down, and it's high time I get around to them.

The state of GPF Premium post-GPF: I'm a bit hesitant to say much here, as this topic is still very much up in the air. For better or for worse, GPF Premium is currently GPF's primary source of revenue, which isn't saying much. Our books have been out of print of years, I don't have time to deal with other forms of merchandising, and the online ad market has tanked. And while I am always deeply grateful for the loyal few subscribers that we have, our Premium revenue has never really covered our operating expenses.

That said, GPF has amassed a small nest egg over the years, so it's not like the server is going to go offline anytime soon. I plan to keep the site running for as long as I'm physically and financially able. That also said, I have a hard time justifying a subscription system for a site whose primary content will be finished and no longer updating regularly. As such, I'm still trying to decide what, exactly, is going to become of Premium once the comic ends. I will try to keep everyone appraised of this throughout the next year.

In the meantime, I do plan to keep Premium relevant until GPF's retirement. I am hoping to get some of the items mentioned above rolling before the comic ends, and as usual Premium folks will get a first crack at everything. From discounts and previews of the GPF e-books and my novels, to (possible) early access to SM2, I definitely plan to keep you guys in the loop.

Since we're talking about Premium, I have been debating for quite some time about its price. The (roughly) $5 USD per month price was somewhat steep when I first launched the service, but online payment systems have always made it hard to lower that price without losing any profit to fees. I've considered dropping the price to more like $1 USD per month, but raising the minimum subscription length to six months. This would raise the minimum tier subscription to $6 USD, but extend the minimum length to half a year. Current subscribers would remain on their current subscription tier (price and duration) until it is time to renew. Naturally, lowering the price is a bargain for subscribers, but it only helps me if it ends up attracting more subscribers than we currently have. None of this is anywhere near finalized, of course, and I would appreciate feedback, from both current subscribers and those who aren't subscribed but might be interested (or not) in the lowered price.

Jeff's health: I want to close out this News post with a (hopefully) brief update on my current health. This is one of the many reasons behind my impending retirement from the comic, as I'm nearly twice the age I was when the comic first began. I'm not getting any younger, and age is catching up to me.

In July of this year (2023), I suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), probably better known as a "mini-stroke". As this nickname implies, a blood clot temporarily cut off circulation to a small part of my brain, and I lost all sensation and control of part of my face. I was unable talk and communicate what was happening to those around me. Although the incident lasted less than a minute, it was a terrifying wake-up call. I ended up spending the night in an emergency room, and was only allowed to go home because it was obvious I wasn't getting any rest in the noisy hospital.

The good news is that, as scary as this sounds, there has been no permanent damage, and I've used the last several months to completely turn my health around. I've completely reworked my diet, increased my exercise, and lost nearly 30 pounds (~14kg). I am taking medication to manage my blood pressure and will shortly be seeing doctors to assess my cardiac health. While I still have an elevated risk of heart disease, I am no longer in imminent danger of a heart attack. Considering how things could have turned out, I was extremely lucky, and I'm not going to squander the "second chance" that's been put before me.

That said, I do need to cut back on the many factors that have raised my stress levels, and one of the easiest places to cut back will be with GPF. As much as I've enjoyed writing and drawing the strip over the years, it's time to finally let it go. While I made the decision to end the comic long before this incident occurred, I do feel that it reinforced that decision. I hope most of you will understand this line of reasoning.

That's all I have for this update, folks. I plan to make more frequent updates as GPF begins to wind down, so keep an eye on the site, the RSS feeds, and social media for more information.

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