GPF News Archive

First Post Previous Post November 2, 2020

 

Four years. Four years. I've let the News go FOUR STINKING YEARS since the last update. And it's not like I can rightly say that no one has pestered me to update it in that time. Believe me, many of you have tried, and I thank those valiant souls for their efforts. A lot has happened in those four years and it's time to finally break the silence. Hopefully this update will be worth it and your long-suffering patience will be rewarded.

(Just a quick reminder for the handful of you who liked our old News Notification icon on the main index page: Yeah, the cookie that drove that feature expired after a year, so I'm afraid all of you need to reset it. You'll find the link near the top of the News index page. Hopefully the next News update will occur before the cookie expires again...)

Where to get GPF News faster than every half-decade: I'll start off with a quick reminder that if you want more timely, more frequently updated GPF news, you should probably follow me or GPF on our various social media outlets: GPF's Twitter feed (for comic, news, and site announcements); my Twitter account (for random things going on with me in general); and/or GPF's Facebook page (for those who prefer that platform and want a mix of the two previous feeds). The Twitter accounts can be considered à la carte and you can subscribe to either or both depending on your preferences, although major announcements will be cross-posted between them as needed. The Facebook page is kind of a mix of the two, including official stuff and random junk from me. As of this writing, I'm not on any other platform (with the death of Google+ a while back), but if there's a particular platform you'd like to see me on, let me know and I'll look into it.

Jeff has a new interview!: Recently, Betty Adams, author of such works as Dying Embers and Humans Are Weird: I Have the Data, interviewed me. It was the first interview I've had in ages, and it was fun getting back into that saddle again. The interview lasted about an hour and has been released on Betty's YouTube channel in two parts. Permanent links can be found at the bottom of the Linked List page, but for your convenience I'll post them here as well: Part One and Part Two. We had some very interesting discussions about the origins of GPF, my processes, the characters and their inspirations, and the future of the comic. There is a significant spoiler there—or here, if you read all of this before watching the interview—but we'll address that below in a few paragraphs.

The end of "Today in GPF History": Back on the topic of social media, I should probably officially announce that I'm bringing an end to the "Today in GPF History" posts on those platforms. For the past several years, I've been posting little daily reminders of where GPF has been, picking a semi-random comic on that day from a previous year. While I've enjoyed that little trip down memory lane (and I know a few of you have as well) and I automated the heck out of it to make it as low maintenance as possible, it's still become a burden to fill up that buffer a couple times every month. To be honest, it's been a perfect example of diminishing returns. It was originally intended as a promotional tool, but the engagement was never very high, with few comments and even fewer reposts. Since then, both Twitter and Facebook have started downplaying posts that consist of nothing but links off-site, meaning fewer and fewer people have actually seen them. And, to be honest, I'm starting to run out of comics to link back to; my admin page for the feature (admittedly one of the coolest scripts in the GPF back-end admin site) only allows for an individual comic to be shown once, and it's getting harder and harder to find comics that haven't been featured. To make matters worse, I've recently learned that the posts really clog up the RSS feed in some readers, crowding out more important updates. With all of this factored together, I've decided to put an end to the feature and save myself a little bit of sanity. My thanks to those who have responded to or reposted these updates over the years.

Welcome to Year Twenty-Two: Speaking of years... it's GPF's twenty-second anniversary today, which means we're starting Year Twenty-Two! This makes me simultaneously excited and exhausted. It's hard enough for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I've been drawing this strip for more than a decade, let alone two, and now we're creeping ever closer to a quarter of a century. In webcomics terms, that's positively ancient. I'm quickly becoming one of the few who have been at it this long without stopping, making the fact that the comic will be coming to an end a few years from now bittersweet.

Wait... what? GPF is... ending???: Unfortunately, yes, although we've still got a few more years left to go, so don't panic. This is a decision I came to quite a ways back, and loyal GPF Premium subscribers who have been following along have received hints about this over the past couple of years. The fact that I'm only making this public now will hopefully prove that it's been a carefully planned and thought-out decision and not a knee-jerk reaction to something. I was debating on exactly when I should mention it, loosely planning on making this post at the twenty-second anniversary anyway, when the topic was broached during Betty's interview (See? Spoilers...) and I decided the time was right.

As I've done in the past, I've decided to devote the rest of this post to a sort of mini-FAQ that will go into a bit more detail. (It might just be an excuse to use the good ol' HTML definition list tag that I love so very, very much...)

The End of GPF Mini-FAQ

Why is GPF coming to an end?

The long and the short of it comes down to... I'm tired. I've been at this for twenty-two blasted years, for goodness' sake, and I think it's high time I finally got a rest.

All kidding aside, twenty-plus years of anything is a lot, especially in the entertainment world. While there are franchises that far exceed this, there are also many, many more that never make it this far. In the webcomics world, it's practically unheard of.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to this decision. One of the chief among them was time. While GPF's art was specifically designed to be quick to draw and the writing has never been too exhausting, maintaining the strip has always been something I've done on the side, in my spare time. In recent years, that "spare" time has dwindled significantly. Most of my weekdays of late have consisted of logging off of the day job to move straight into the second job—the comic—and I frequently find myself pushing twelve-hour days. That's getting harder to do the older I get. This doesn't count time spent on the sly maintaining the site and the business side of things: checking e-mail and the Forum, coding and updating the site, etc. I'm not getting any younger, and there's a limit to how much caffeine a body can take.

This leads to the second factor: creative freedom. While GPF has been a wonderful creative outlet, it's also been quite limiting in that it crowds out everything else I've always wanted to do. I've attempted NaNoWriMo several times now, and while I successfully "won" on my first attempt in 2017, that was only because I had already written the scripts for GPF a month in advance, so all I had to do was draw them and upload them. Since then, it's been harder and hard to find time to work on other projects on the side. GPF has been such a fixture in my life for so long, it's been hard to think of my life without it. That said, there are so many other things I want to do—writing novels and other comics—that maintaining GPF simply doesn't allow me to.

Finances, unfortunately, also play a significant role. GPF can be considered "successful" in that it generates more income than the expenses I've sunk into it over the years. That said, it has never been "successful" enough for me to quit my day job and devote myself fully to my creative endeavors. My wife and I have carefully examined that option many times over the years, and while we've come close to pulling the trigger a few times, we've never felt comfortable committing to the final leap. We're not by any means in financial trouble; we live quite comfortably with our combined salaries, even in the current uncertain economic climate. But as a business, GPF has never been a huge money maker; at best, it's been a glorified hobby that has paid for its own supplies and bought me a few laptops over the years. The handful of Bitcoin I've been gifted by fans has done more to contribute to my eventual retirement than GPF's "profits". (And thank you, by the way, to those of you who did send me Bitcoin way back in the day. I've maxed out my IRA's contributions for several years straight thanks to you.)

There are other factors I could possibly add, but those are perhaps the biggest. If I had to boil it down to a couple sentences, I'd probably say: GPF has had a good run, and I've told most of the stories I've wanted to tell with it. I want to move on to other things, but I can't do that while maintaining the strip. I think the time is right for the comic to end, and I think I've got a good way to do that in a satisfying way.

OK, when will GPF come to an end?

The current plan is to end the comic on either its twenty-fifth anniversary, November 2nd, 2023, or at the end of Year Twenty-Five, which would probably be the end of October 2024. (With the Great Hiatus of 2006-2007, the Year numbers got a bit out of sync with the anniversaries, so the Year X now starts on anniversary x.) I like the idea of hitting that round-ish "25" number, or at least saying "I did this for a quarter of a century". This is currently a target and not a milepost and as such nothing set in stone; there's a chance the strip could end before or after then, depending on the circumstances (I finish the story early or need a bit of extra time, I don't expire before then, etc.).

Will we get to see a final resolution for every past story arc?

Maybe not all of them, but all of the stories I think are important enough to warrant it. There are a few things I want to leave unresolved, simply because I think it would be more interesting to let you, the reader, decide how it ends. That said, we'll definitely see the resolution of the current "GPF in Space!" arc that started with Scylla and Charybdis, as well as a few other old threads I want to wrap up.

Could you potentially change your mind and keep the strip going, or come back and revisit the GPF gang with new content?

I don't plan on walking away from GPF forever. It's been a part of my life for so long, I could never turn my back on it completely. There's always the possibility I could change my mind and decide to keep going, especially if I feel there are still important stories I want to tell and GPF is the right format to do that in. Even if I did stick to the plan and formally end the comic, though, I'll always reserve the right to come back and visit the gang again with new sketches, art, and prose if I want to.

What will become of the site after the comic ends? Will the archives go offline?

Absolutely not! I plan to keep the site running for as long as I humanly and financially can. Exactly how long that might be is uncertain at this point, but GPF does have a nice little nest egg that I'm sitting on, and I plan to continue using that money to maintain the site for as long as it lasts. I also want to keep the content "fresh" in some manner, perhaps by posting new content upon occasion and rerunning old comics in their originally published order so folks can keep coming back and enjoying their daily dose of GPF-ness, even if it's a rerun.

By that same token, I also know that the GPF site is perhaps my greatest and most powerful asset for promoting any future projects I may launch. You don't sit on a pristine, well-maintained domain for over two decades without accumulating some Google juice, so I know that anything I may launch post-GPF will most likely get its first glimpse here. Ongoing updates for these other projects will likely be spun off onto their own domains, but I'll definitely use GPF's clout to point people to them.

What will become of GPF Premium when the comic ends, and in the interim?

Up until the comic ends, Premium will continue exactly as it always has. Premium is a vital, core component of the comic's current financial stability, and whether the comic ends in three, four, or twenty more years, I still need to pay that server bill every month.

What happens to Premium as we get closer to the end, though, may be something we need to discuss. On one hand, I don't want to ask people to pay for old, stale content, or at least inconsistently updated ones. On the other hand, I know some of you have expressed interest in some of the projects I've hinted at through various Premium channels over the years, projects that stand a much higher chance of seeing the light of day once GPF ends. Premium may morph into a general Patreon-like system for future Jeff Darlington content. We still have a few years to figure that out.

For the time being, however, Premium-exclusive content will remain exclusive and will still require a subscription. I'm not going to remove the higher, multi-year subscription tiers just yet, in large part because I know so people will insist on paying those higher amounts, even if the new content may potentially trickle to a halt before their subscription technically ends. I intend to continue honoring Premium subscriptions for as long as the service continues, even if there won't be much in the way of new content. I reserve the right to shut down the service at some point in the indeterminate future, after the comic ends, and put any exclusive content out for mass consumption at that point.

What do you plan to do after the comic ends? Will you be posting any other projects online?

That's kind of the plan. :) Without having the "millstone" of GPF hanging around my neck, I'm hoping I'll be able to free up some time to work on other projects, like the NaNoWriMo book series mentioned above or any number of a dozen other such story ideas rattling around in my head. I would love to be able to find a great artist looking for a challenging project who might be interesting in illustrating some of my writings, thus bringing some of my other comic ideas to life. I'd also like to just take a break for a while and do nothing, something I haven't really done in, well, twenty-two years.

Does this mean we'll finally get the compilation books back?

It's possible. One of the big reasons we haven't seen any books in a while is because I no longer have any publisher relationships, and anything I do now will probably be print-on-demand or Kickstarter driven. This means the onus is on me to do all of the layout and prep work and, well... see the question above about never finding the time. Assuming I don't start something brand new immediately after GPF ends, I could conceivably spend some time putting together a few compilations to see how things go. If they sell well, that might be the impetus I need to put out more.

I've also considered multiple times putting out an all-digital compilation archive. At one time, I was planning to do compilation CDs or DVDs, but I think I may have missed the optical media relevance window. If I can find the right medium to do a digital compilation that hits the right mixture of convenience for everyone and profitability (as well as preventing piracy without being to troublesome), then that will probably be the route I'll take.

Are we ever going to see the Surreptitious Machinations II spin-off comic you promised us years ago?

Oh, dear Lord, I hope so. The only reason it's taken this long is, well... see above for the note about time. The script has been written for years, and the art is over one-third complete. No one is more frustrated than I am at how long it's taken. If by some miracle I do find the time to work on it and complete it before the main comic ends, I'll continue with the original plan of releasing it as a Premium exclusive. The worst-case scenario would be that, if the main comic ends first, I'll immediately start working on it again after the main story finishes and I'll post the entire thing for free once it's complete. (Well, OK, the real worst-case scenario is something happens to me first and it'll never get finished, but that's more morbid that I wanted to get here.)

That's about all I have to say at the moment. I'm sure there may be more questions raised in the coming weeks, so if you feel the need to ask them, feel free to post them on the Forum or contact me by via any of the channels listed on the Contact Us page. There are still a lot of unknowns that even I haven't anticipated yet, but there's still time to figure those out.

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