GPF News Archive

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Hey, gang. Once again, I need to start off by apologizing for my usual silence here in the News. I honestly try to set aside a few moments to periodically update the News, but finding time to write long-form News posts is getting harder and harder these days. That's one of the reasons my blog has languished for so long. (Yes, it still exists. Stop badgering me about it.) While I promise to try to be more diligent in updating posts here, I should point out that I've become a lot more active on social media and post there fairly frequently. If you're not already following me on Twitter or Google+ or the official GPF Twitter feed or GPF Facebook page, you probably ought to (at least if you're on those networks). You'll find out about events affecting GPF a lot more quickly than you will just reading here.

But I'm not here to be a social media cheerleader. I'm here to fill you in on what's been going on with respect to GPF for the past several months, and where the comic is going for the next year. So let's get to it.

My Recent Health Problems: One of the reasons behind my relative silence has been a series of health issues that have plagued me for most of the summer. Actually, these problems have gone on for perhaps a good year or more, but they became more pressing and invasive since June. I don't really want to go into a great deal of detail, but I will say that these problems have been impacting my entire life, including GPF, my day job, and my family. I've had a couple of scary trips to the hospital emergency room, several trips to specialists of various kinds, and numerous expensive and frustrating tests of various types and complexity. Worst of all, it's been ultimately revealed that my problems have been largely, if unintentionally, self-inflicted. I made a poor decision perhaps three or so years ago that was meant to improve my health but inadvertently sent me down this path, and it only came to an uncomfortable fruition during the past few months.

All that said, I'm happy to report that we did eventually find the source of the problem and I'm on the road to recovery. It will likely take a few more months for everything to fully sort itself out, but I've already seen marked improvement. I'm not back to 100% just yet, but I'm maybe back up to 80% and climbing rapidly. On the plus side, those numerous expensive tests did show that I'm apparently otherwise in pretty good health. Those results were frustrating at the time because they weren't giving us any clues into my problem, but in retrospect it's been quite a relief to see how many problems I've avoided. For now, I just need to continue doing what I'm doing (or rather, not doing what I was doing before) and I should be fine. Well, I could probably stand to lose a good 20 pounds (or 9 kilograms, for you metric folks), but that's another issue.

I need to apologize to pretty much everyone for all that I've been through. My wife, son, and extended family have all been supportive of me and have taken great care of me, even during the worst of the issues. My managers at my day job have been very accommodating, letting me work in my numerous doctors' appointments, make up hours on off days, and telecommute more frequently than normal. And you guys have been relatively patient, still coming back to read the comic even when I've been silent otherwise. To all of you, I wish to express my deepest thanks.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get on to happier things....

GPF's 15th Anniversary: I'm not sure how many of you have noticed, but on November 2nd, GPF passed a pretty major milestone. In 1998, when the Internet was just beginning to gain traction in the public consciousness and the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, I did something I thought was a pretty novel concept, something I had only seen done a few times before. On November 2, 1998, the GPF site officially launched with its very first comic. And here were are, fifteen years later... and I still have rubbed enough brain cells together to realize how crazy that idea was. Only now... it's not so crazy anymore. Where I only had a handful of peers in the beginning, there are literally thousands of independent artists sharing their content online now. "Webcomics" have become mainstream, or at least have become recognized as more than a niche for hobbyists who can't make it as professionals. I love seeing how this "industry" has blossomed over the past decade and a half, especially when I see old pros turning to the Web as an alternative to print, or when I seen some new up-and-comer break out into financial success. I still take joy in discovering some new comic online that I've never seen before, and I have the utmost respect for those "seasoned veterans" who preceded me and who are still plugging out new comics today.

I don't have any major celebrations planned, but there's an anniversary celebration forum thread, and I'm planning to release a few "flashback" pages that let you guys take a look back at GPF as it once was. As stated at the top of the anniversary forum thread, I'd love to hear stories from folks about how they first found GPF, who your favorite characters are, and other bits of nostalgia. If nothing else, you can help me feel old and decrepit, now that my comic is old enough to legally get a driver's learning permit in some U.S. states.

Year 15, or Scylla and Charybdis: Of course, the big announcement here is the start of Year 15. I announced this a month or so back on social media (See? It pays to follow me...) but Year 15 is the start of yet another epic GPF "mega-arc". In the same vein as Surreptitious Machinations and To Thine Own Self..., Year 15 begins Scylla and Charybdis, a massive story that's literally been 14 years in the making. That's right, folks... we're pulling out all the stops and drawing upon the entire continuity of the comic, pulling in threads from as far back as Year One. This is "the big one", a story many folks have been waiting for, which will not only answer questions I've been avoiding for years but will also change the course of the comic for possibly years more to come.

In the past, I've created a sort of "mini-FAQ" here in the News when I've launched one of these "mega-arcs", and I think those have been rather helpful. So in keeping with tradition, I now present....

The GPF Year 15 Mini-FAQ

So where does the title Scylla and Charybdis come from?

The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" is an ancient proverb which has its roots in Greek mythology. Specifically, it derives from Homer's Odyssey and Odysseus' encounter with two terrifying monsters. Those two Wikipedia links will give you a lot more detail into the actual myth and the idiom, but exactly how it applies to GPF will be revealed as the story unfolds.

How long will this story last?

The goal with all of the "mega-arcs" has been to tell the bulk of the story in the course of an entire year. Surreptitious Machinations succeeded at that goal, while To Thine Own Self... was interrupted by unavoidable real life events. Still, although To Thine Own Self... took approximately two and a half years to tell in real time, it ran pretty much as scripted and fell just short of the original plan of 52 full (scripted) weeks.

This remains the goal with Scylla and Charybdis. I plan to start with November 4, 2013 (the first update Monday of Year 15) and wrap things up on October 31, 2014 (meaning the start of Year 16 should be on November 2nd.) That said, unlike the previous two "mega-arcs", I'm currently updating at less than half the previous frequency (three days per week instead of seven), so I only have half the time to tell this one in. I've already decided that if Scylla and Charybdis exceeds 52 weeks, then so be it; I'll continue the story for as long as it takes. That also said, I don't anticipate it running long, and we'll still have a Year 16, even if it's a "truncated" year like Year Nine was back in 2008.

What will be the main focus of this story?

One of GPF's hallmarks has always been to have multiple plot threads moving at once, and the "mega-arcs" have been no exception. There'll be several major themes in play here, but revealing that now would be a spoiler. That said, expect both Fooker and Fred to get a good bit of face time, but everyone will have their part to play at some point.

Are we finally going to see what happened to Nick?

Following Nick's disappearance and "Nega-Nick" (Nick's evil alter-ego from the alternate universe) taking his place, many of you have expressed concern about our main character's safe return. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but yes, we are going to see him again. Just be patient.

Are you finally going to reveal [arbitrary plot twist to long-dormant plot thread]?

You'll have to be patient and read the story to find out. ;)

Are there any past stories I should catch up on before reading this one?

That's a tough one to answer. Like the previous two "mega-arcs" this one builds on pretty much everything that comes before it. The problem this time is that we have 14 years of continuity as opposed to three or seven. And yes, I wasn't kidding when I said we're going all the way back to Year One with this one. This story puts the "mega" in "mega-arc".

The easy, cop-out answer would be to suggest that you re-read the entire archive at your earliest opportunity. While I'd certainly appreciate the additional ad revenue, I'm also realistic in knowing that you guys have more pressing things to do. I also don't want to offer up too many spoilers on what's about to happen by giving hints on which plot threads are being tugged. So for now I humbly but strongly suggest you pay careful attention to the reference links below many of the strips. These links will point you back to previous events in a given thread, some of which will have additional links that go even further back.

You're not ending the comic, are you?

This question always comes up whenever I start (or end) a "mega-arc". Usually I just ask folks to wait and see, but I'll be a more up-front this time. No, I have no plans of ending the comic anytime soon. The ending of this story practically guarantees more stories to come.

I don't like it when you do these "mega-arcs". When should I came back and start reading again?

This is another one I get every time I do this. As always, I don't recommend that you stop reading and come back, mostly because you'll be totally lost in future stories without the context laid down by this one. That said, I've often recommended to folks in the past that taking a break isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as you remember where you left off and make an effort to catch back up. Although I try my best to pace the story in such away that updates every other day aren't so agonizing, I will admit that the story reads and flows much better when ingested all in one sitting. If you can't handle the pace of updates, find a good place to bookmark in the archive and come back in a few weeks or months. I guarantee some surprises for everyone who sticks with it.

And that, I think, is about all I have for this round. I've been both looking forward to and dreading this story, just because we'll finally get to see some resolution to some very old plot threads. That means there's a lot of pressure on me to get that resolution just right, and I've definitely been working hard to do just that. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I have for the past 15 years.

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