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GPF News Archive

First Post Previous Post October 4, 2021

 

Greetings, all. I'm breaking the (unintentional) silence again to make an important announcement. I'll put the "TL;DR" here at the top for those who are time constrained, and for those who are not (or want more details), you can keep reading:

  • GPF will take a brief three-week hiatus starting Monday, October 11th. Regular updates will resume on November 1st with the official start of Year Twenty-Three. I will try to have "filler" content on the front page on regular update days, but at the moment I can't guarantee this nor can I say exactly what that content might be. (Whatever it ends up as, it won't be canonical and won't be part of the main archive.)
  • For those who missed last November's "End of GPF" post, you can use the handy Previous button to read the previous post. (There's a mini-FAQ there with most of the details, which I won't rehash here.)

Now, here's some additional details about the hiatus. Long-time readers should already know that I never take these sort of things lightly. In GPF's two-decades-plus history, I've only ever taken two actual breaks: one intentional, one not. Years ago, fans even suggested me as a candidate for unofficial "Iron Cartoonist" competitions due to my near-legendary buffer and nigh-infallible update schedule. I wisely declined those nominations at the time (without knowing that the Great Hiatus of 2006-2007 was lurking in the shadows), but considering that, despite this, I haven't missed a scheduled update before or since, that's still unprecedented when it comes to the world of webcomics.

That said, life does have a way of taking us in unpredictable directions. A number of disparate yet overlapping factors have contributed to the above decision, which I'll outline below.

First and foremost, I'm not exactly in the best of health at the moment. Before anyone gets too concerned, I'm on the mend and feeling better, but I'm not back to 100%. I'll spare you most of the gory details, but I've come to learn that my "annual bout of bronchitis" is actually borderline asthma, typically induced by seasonal allergies. After years of trying to convince general practitioners that there's more going on, I've finally been referred to a pulmonologist who seems to be taking me seriously. Alas, my annual flare-up started around late August or early September, and I largely went downhill since. A cocktail of pharmaceuticals have so far reversed that trend, but I've silently taken a week off behind-the-scenes give myself some time to recuperate.

Which brings me to the second reason for the hiatus. As mentioned above, it's well known (or at least it used to be) that I prefer to maintain a sizable buffer with GPF. At its height, that buffer was as much as eight weeks (roughly two months), although it's been more like four weeks for the past several years. Between vacations and illness, I've let individual weeks slip from that buffer over time. I often make that missing week back up by doubling-up, drawing an extra comic here or there over a few weeks until the buffer is back to "normal". Lately, though, this has been harder to do. With my current illness, making up an extra week isn't going to be easy, and the impending holiday juggernaut duo of Thanksgiving and Christmas often chews up a lot of my free time.

So I looked at my continuity spreadsheet (yes, such a thing exists) and realized that the current story was going to end in an awkward place, time-line-wise. I would only have three weeks remaining in Year Twenty-Two, which is an odd interval to fill. That's not much space to work with, especially when I'm only updating three days per week. Whatever I would put in there would have to be short and not very important to the overall plot, as there wouldn't be much room to do anything significant. I could attempt to drag out the current story longer, but that would also be "filler" that wouldn't contribute much. At best, I feel I could stretch that to another week, which leaves me with even less to work with for the remaining block.

With all this in mind, I started formulating a plan. Rather than artificially stretching out the current story, I could end it with its natural conclusion, then take the last three weeks of Year Twenty-Two off. The first week would be a "health break"—an actual vacation from GPF—during which I wouldn't do any comicking at all. No writing, no drawing, nothing. This would give me time to recuperate from the asthma/allergy flair-up and put me in a better place for the other two weeks. Those would be spent ramping up Year Twenty-Three, both planning out the year and getting the first story on the drawing tablet. This would allow me to add not one but two whole weeks to the dwindling buffer, putting me on better footing for when the next unexpected event arises.

There's one more reason for taking a break: I literally haven't had a "vacation" from GPF in years. While I've taken vacations from the the day job at reasonable intervals, I haven't taken such a luxury when it comes to the comic. During major holidays when I've been home with family, I've still been churning away at the tablet in the evenings. Even this past August, when our family when on our first away-from-home vacation in (maybe) two years, I still managed to squeeze in my weekly comic quota. I'm not as young as I used to be, and that kind of relentless drumbeat is getting harder to maintain. The buffer exists to let me take time off without missing updates, but with that dwindling, I need to be more judicious in how I take advantage of it.

So now you know what I'll be doing during those three weeks off. You probably want to know what's going to happen here on the site. The current plan is to put something up on regular update days, although exactly what hasn't been decided as of this writing. During the Great Hiatus of 2006-2007, I ran a number recycled or repurposed material, some of which (like Mischief's Night Out) have since become permanent fixtures on the site. (Warning: That link only works on the main "desktop" GPF site, not the mobile site.) There's a strong possibility I might dip into the GPF Premium exclusive "Jeff's Sketchbook" archive and repost some Sketches from there, which I also did during the Great Hiatus. While this will technically be reruns for the Premium subscribers, it can also serve as an in-house ad for non-subscribers, showcasing some of the things you might be missing. Whatever the temporary content might be, it will be ephemeral and will NOT be part of the main archive. It will be up solely for the days it will be featured on the front page, then it will disappear back into "the vault" forever. (If that's not incentive to keep checking for regular updates, I don't know what is.)

Oh, and on the note of the Premium-exclusive Sketchbook, those updates WILL continue while I'm on my break. That buffer has already been filled through those three weeks, so you guys will still get updates. Aren't you special?

That should pretty much wrap up the whole hiatus situation. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and as always your continued support and patronage. I will still be lurking around, so feel free to contact me if you feel the need. (I may not always have a chance to respond, but I do read every message and post you send.) See you in November, folks!

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