State of the Guild 2015
Hey, Guildies! Before you all strap yourselves into one of our most madness-fueled chapters to date, we’ve got some housekeeping matters to discuss. Most important of which:
WE ARE REDUCING OUR UPDATE SCHEDULE TO MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND FRIDAY, INSTEAD OF EVERY WEEKDAY… BUT WE ARE NOT QUITTING GUILDED AGE.
That is the #1 thing we want people to remember here. Every change that we are making, we are doing so for the long-term betterment of Guilded Age. We love this comic. It’s the biggest, most fulfilling, most difficult and rewarding creative endeavour that either of us have ever undertaken. That said, working on Guilded Age in 2014 almost killed Guilded Age. “Why,” you may ask…?
Because publishing 6 full-sized, full-color pages of Guilded Age every week was fucking insane and WHAT MADE US THINK WE COULD DO THAT AND SURVIVE.
Hubris, I guess. It takes a certain amount of hubris to write a saga as crazy and sprawling as ours, but we have fallen victim to our own impossible standards. Ask An Adventurer was a great, fun project that we had a great time doing, and we’re intensely grateful that we had the opportunity to stretch our limbs on that thanks to the funding of the FRIGGSTARTER… but in many ways, it was like running a whole additional comic to Guilded Age itself, and it taxed us to our extreme. Five pages a week was already pushing it. Six was definitely the breaking point.
Oh, we definitely succeeded in updating six times a week for all of 2014 (barring technical issues and living room cave-ins). But the kicker on that is, well… we couldn’t do anything else. We made glacial progress at best on physical book production and Kickstarter fulfillment, zero progress on the animation… and between my day job + Super Art Fight and T’s day job + editing for Pixie Trix Comix, there just wasn’t time or energy to accomplish anything else. And it was kind of killing us.
One of the most common questions we ever get is “How far in advance do you have scripts for?” Our answer to that question, for basically all of 2014, was [AGONIZED LAUGHTER]. You guys really have no idea how close to the edge of deadlines we operated for basically all of 2014, and how much damage that was doing to the work (in our eyes), and how much damage that was doing to me and T’s creative partnership.
Our marriage has been very rocky, as it were. But we’ve gone to couples counseling and we are now singularly dedicated to saving our marriage and being the best parents we can for you kids.
Uncomfortable metaphors aside… and this might surprise you to see this listed as the last reason in the list, but it’s the reason we were least happy with facing: we simply cannot afford to produce comics five or six times a week anymore. It’s just the facts. We don’t get enough money through advertising, Guilded Age Plus, or the web store to maintain a consistent profit. We never did, really.
We started running five days a week as an experiment in audience growth conducted by Team Guilded Age and Joseph Stillwell, CEO of Hiveworks (our comics label/host/ad network). Certainly more updates mean more pageviews, but they haven’t meant enough more pageviews to offset the increased cost of production.
Basically all of our regular revenue (and sometimes a bit out of our own pockets as well) goes towards paying John and Jason’s page rate, which, believe me, is still less than they deserve. This may surprise you, but T and I basically don’t personally profit whatsoever from making Guilded Age. Sometimes, like when we do particularly well at a convention, we will pay ourselves with that money. But even most of that money goes to covering our con-related expenses, and so on and so on.
We don’t say this to guilt you, we only say this as a matter of fact: We don’t make money off this comic. But we still make it, because we love this comic and we love that you guys keep showing up to read it every damned day.
So, we will update less. We will roll back to three times a week. Which is already a pretty great update schedule, all said! But we’ve been spoiled for the extra updates for a long time already, so it’s hard to dial it back.
Five times a week was difficult for us. It sometimes meant we felt we had to play for time, it sometimes meant that we would cram more into the story than we strictly needed to. Reducing the update schedule will not only reduce the workload to a point where we can accomplish literally anything else we have promised you, but also to a point where the story will return to a much, much more focused and progressive pacing. And as I said before: for the year 2014, we basically never had a buffer. Not even on scripts. We need to get to the point where we can have enough work done ahead of time that we can give each script the time and patience they truly need to be their absolute best, because for far too long we’ve been working under the oppressive yoke of “The Deadline.”
Guilded Age is our baby. We have a plan for its entire life, and we will never, ever abandon that plan. But we’ve definitely been pushing ourselves too hard, and it’s time to course-correct.
So that’s what’s up, basically. We’re going to update less, so we can do more. Big items on the docket include restoring, revamping, and revitalizing Guilded Age Plus, getting our books through Diamond Distribution, and then, after we know how many we’ll have left to sell, putting ‘em up on the store for purchase.
Bottom line is… we just don’t have the resources (human, chronal, fiscal, or otherwise) to run our business while we update so much. And at some point, we need to focus on having a salient business model while we’re focusing on making it a great comic.
So thank you for reading all of this, if you did. Thank you for reading the comic, too! Thank you for pledging to Kickstarters and buying our books and supporting us how you have thus far. We need to do better for you as creators and businessmen, and that’s what we’re setting out to do in the year 2015.
And hey, since we’re in the transparency sort of mood… ASK US ANYTHING!