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GPF News Archive

First Post Previous Post Next Post Latest Post November 14, 2016


Greetings, Faulties! Yes, I'm breaking the silence once again to make three (hopefully) quick announcements:

GPF's 18th Anniversary: First and foremost, in case you guys missed it, November 2, 2016 marked GPF's 18th anniversary. This is a milestone that completely boggles my mind. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this little comic strip of mine would have lasted this long. I'm sure that, in the beginning, I thought nobody would read my silly chicken scratches, or that I'd run out of ideas and have to close things down like so many other online cartoonists have done over the years. But here I am, a bit older, grayer, and fatter than I was back then, still plugging along. It completely baffles me how I haven't thrown in the towel or died of exhaustion before this point.

I'd say my biggest inspiration to keep going has been the simple fact that, despite its occasional frustrations, GPF still entertains me. I feel compelled to keep chronicling the story of these characters, at least until a logical conclusion comes to light. I've thought numerous times that this conclusion was just around the bend, only to discover so many other enticing paths lying just beyond each climax. Part of me fears that GPF will never be "finished", and that long after I'm gone my family will still be publishing snippets of stories I never got a chance to complete.

Of course, while my own enjoyment is my biggest motivation, the wonderful support I've received from all of my friends, family, and readers is a strong and close second. I couldn't do GPF if I didn't enjoy it, but even when things got tough and I felt like it was a slog, many of you where there, checking in every single day. Admittedly, GPF's readership has declined from its heyday (we've never fully recovered our numbers after the "Great Hiatus of 2006" and the move from Keenspot), but the comic is still self-sufficient and profitable enough to maintain forward momentum. On top of that, the many e-mails, Forum posts, and social media mentions provide the same awesome feedback they always have. Whether you're a GPF Premium subscriber pledging your financial support, or just an occasional reader who checks in periodically to make sure things are still rolling, it always lifts my spirits to know that someone is out there enjoying my work, possibly even more that I do.

To each and every one of you, thanks for making the past eighteen years possible. I can't guarantee there'll be another eighteen years (I certainly hope to "retire" before then), but I'll keep things going as along as I still have ideas and you guys keep reading.

"Crisis in Infinite MUTEXes" is Finally Complete: On the tails of this exciting milestone, it gives me great pleasure to finally announce that one of GPF's long-outstanding unfinished projects is finally complete. Long time readers may vaguely remember the Year Seven story "Crisis in Infinite MUTEXes", which introduced Nick's "Absolutely Incredible Man" comics into the official canon (before then they only existed as a bonus story in our first book) and The Inexplicable Speck!, a superhero that was roughly contemporary to GPF in creation but who had never been published until that point. Likewise, this story also confirmed that Nick's MUTEX/Velociraptor combined device was an inter-dimensional transport, an idea first hinted at in Year Six's "A Tail of Two Species" and instrumental to the then-upcoming To Thine Own Self... "mega-arc".

When I did this story, I wanted to take the opportunity to do something different and stretch my creative wings for a bit. I drew the comic in a more detailed, superhero-comic-book-inspired style, giving me the room to draw something much more action-oriented and a chance to really demonstrate that the MUTEX had transported the gang to another universe. However, I knew that the larger format and more detailed art was going to take longer to produce, and that I wouldn't have time to write, draw, and color every single large-format page. (During Year Six and the majority of Year Seven, GPF was in full color and updated seven days per week.) So I contracted a fellow webcartoonist to color the "Crisis" pages for me. In addition to helping me get everything completed on time, as an added bonus having a guest colorist would add to the "different universe" look and feel, artistically separating Nick's superhero world from the "real" world of GPF.

Sadly, the best laid plans of mice and men often meet with mouse traps. Although the guest colorist started off strong, she started lagging behind, ultimately failing to finish the last week or so of the story. Communication with her quickly broke down; every attempt to contact her for the next several weeks failed. Even when I tried to pay her for the work she did complete, she never returned my e-mails and seemed to vanish from the face of the Earth. (I've heard of her being mentioned here and there in webcomic circles since then, so I know nothing terribly drastic happened to her.) Her silence was incredibly frustrating, in part because I never wanted to fail to live up to a contractual obligation, but mostly because I felt there was now a massive "hole" in my archive that wasn't complete. I posted my line art for the final week of the story to make sure that, from a narrative standpoint, the story was resolved. However, its incompleteness bothered me, and has haunted me for over a decade.

For the longest time, coloring "Crisis" was a cursed project, not unlike the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Over the past eleven years, I spoke with no less than five different artists who seemed interested in taking on the project. Every one of them was offered compensation for their work: a fair per-page fee and a permanent link from the GPF archives. Some tentatively agreed to take the project only to vanish without producing a single page. One artist was paid half upfront, only to never deliver (and never offer a refund). I still didn't have time to color those pages myself; otherwise, I would have finished it long ago. I had given up hope and resigned myself to the fact that the story would never be complete beyond what was already uploaded.

Then in April of 2016, a chance Twitter conversation led to a ray of hope. John S. Troutman, the mastermind behind Troutcave Comics, was looking for additional comicking work. Long-time webcomic readers may recognize John by the myriad of titles he's published over the years: Sporkman, Basil Flint, Mary Elizabeth's Sock, Lit Brick, The Gospel of Carol, and many others. I pitched an idea for a new comic to him, one which I would write and he could draw. While John seemed interested in the idea, the time just wasn't right for either of us to launch something that ambitious. I still wanted to help a fellow artist out, so as an aside I mentioned "Crisis" and the crisis (pun intended) behind it. John leapt at the chance to tackle it and, over the next several months, cranked them out consistently. It took me a bit to process the final files (adding sound effects, resizing them for the Web, and updating the guest colorist attributions), but I'm excited to say they're finally online.

If you want to check out the finally complete version of "Crisis" or just take a trip down GPF's memory lane, you can start the story here, although the updated comics don't start until here. Also make sure to swing by John's site and check out all the awesome work he has available. While much of his work is still available online, he also has a Patreon account and many of his stories are available at Comixology for offline reading.

Now that "Crisis" is finally put to bed, maybe I can scrape up the time to finish that Surreptitious Machinations "sequel"....

Trudy's Wumpus World is Back Online: The Geeky Games have been part of the GPF site from almost the beginning, although they've languished under bit rot over the years. Some games like "Fook Invaders", "Ki's Word Search", and "Nick's Virtual Maze", vanished because the technologies behind them have all but disappeared from the Web. (Oracle has effectively killed Java applets, and VRML never gained much traction online.) Some early games weren't really games at all, but were amusing little jokes that were good for one or two laughs but were largely ignorable after that. As such, the Geeky Games hub still bears one of our ugly warning blocks proclaiming that subsite is a work in progress. (That warning's been there since 2008 at least.)

One of my favorites under that banner, though, was Trudy's Wumpus World, a deceptively simple implementation of "Hunt the Wumpus" that pits the player against a computer A.I. in a race to regain your stolen paycheck before Trudy whacks you over the head with a mallet. It's a fun little diversion penned in JavaScript that, like the aforementioned games, suffered from neglect. Several server moves and the relentless evolution of Internet standards left it broken and forgotten for the longest time. Recently, however, I managed to scrounge enough round "to-its" to look at the code an figure why it was no longer working. I ripped out the abominable HTML frames (if that tells you how old this thing was) and replaced them with modern "divs", as well as consolidated the code into a single file that's both easier to read and maintain. I also fixed a number of minor bugs, like the broken display of the navigation buttons and the "Pick Up Check" button still appearing after you'd already picked it up.

If you've never played Trudy's Wumpus World before or you're just looking for a trip down GPF memory lane, make sure to hop over and give it a spin. Successfully escaping the world with the paycheck gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the logic behind the game, and the configurable grid size offers greater challenges for old hands who feel the default isn't hard enough. The game does pop up a new window and requires JavaScript, however, so make sure you don't have those blocked before launching it.

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