< Piro >
Wednesday - October 30, 2002
Well, i have some news. It's both bad... and good.
It's not like things haven't been crazy enough around here - trying to get a graphic novel ready for publication, coloring cover art, trying (and failing) to keep the webcomic up and going (story development, scripting and drawing all competing with each other), Ignoring the fact that i need to produce more product designs for the Megatokyo store (Christmas is just around the corner, and the bandwidth bills are not getting any smaller), all while trying to keep my head above water at work. I'm pretty stubborn, and I've managed to keep things rolling along for the past two years or so, no matter what has been thrown at me. Dealing with the constant conflict between the time Megatokyo needs, the time my day job as an architect requires, and the small in-between moments that are left for Seraphim and myself... I won't lie, it's been a hard balancing act. But it's always been worth it, because i feel that Megatokyo is something to be proud of (even with all it's problems). Unfortunately, something happened Monday that changed this balance drastically...
Monday afternoon I was laid off.
This has taken me completely by surprise. I won't go into the details about why I was laid off because there really aren't any - the industry is in a severe slump right now, and there just isn't enough work to keep everyone working. I just happened to be one of the people in-between projects. I know for a fact that there are a lot of readers who have gone thru this, so some of you know how it feels. It happens. It sucks.
Funny though... I always figured that it'd be because I was starting to spend too much time on Megatokyo that it might someday get me in trouble - which is why I was always very careful to make sure I did my job and did it well. Fat lotta good that did me in the end.
What does this mean for Megatokyo?
Economically speaking, the smartest thing for me to do would be to drop everything and find myself another job as an Architect. Finding a job at my level will take a lot of time, effort, and footwork. I have to revise and update my resume and my portfolio, research and dig for contacts and prospects in the area. I really should drop this 'hobby' of making webcomics and get serious about finding another job. That's what I should do.
Well, I'm not going to do that.
You see, my goal has always been to do something like Megatokyo full time. I really want to be a true manga-ka, or manga aritist. It's not an easy goal - I don't have any delusions about it. But i feel that the past two years of hard work has presented me an opportunity to pursue that goal. So, rather than finding a job that will conflict with Megatokyo just as much as the previous one did, I'm going to take a real chance and try doing Megatokyo full time.
I'm looking at it this way - maybe getting laid off is really an opportunity in disguise - a kick in the ass that will force me to let go of the wall and start swimming on my own. It will entail forsaking the security a regular paycheck and other benefits, and its a very scary prospect - but I'm willing to take the risks and see what will happen if I devote myself fulltime to doing something that I love doing and i am so passionate about.
One thing i can't afford to do right now is get corny, so i'll stop now. Lets cut to the chase and start talkin facts. I'm gettin misty.
Ok, so. I am now doing Megatokyo full time. Technically, I now work for all of you. A lot of people have commented on how great it would be if I could ever quit my day job and do Megatokyo full time. Well, now we'll get to see if hey are right. First, lets talk about what will change around here, now that the site has my undivided attention.
Every reader will notice a HUGE change in the regularity and amount of creative material on Megatokyo. This is my job, my priority, and i will treat it as such. There WILL be a new comic ever Monday, Wednesday and Friday from here on out. Period. There is no longer any excuses for a missed comic - missing a comic deadline is akin to missing a deadline at work. DPD days, SGD days, and things like that are a thing of the past (unless they are planned for a reason) Dont worry - if you like Dead Piro Days, you will find that i will post at least one sketch to fredart every week. The status bar will be pretty much obsolete, and will probably go away. So, the first order of business is to get things back on schedule.
I have already started working on the 'characters' and 'story' sections of the website. It's time i got those up and working. There will be a lot of new artwork in these sections (especially the character stats). Also I will start working on the lessons section at fredart. Second order of businesses is to patch up the holes in the websites and start finishing things i started years ago.
I also going to investigate starting other projects. I'm going to start development on 'Warmth', which i have been teasing you with for way too long. There are also several Megatokyo Gameworlds projects that i want to work on.
Thankfully, the first Megatokyo Graphic Novel collection is well under way. I have incentive to try to get the second volume (which will consist of chapter 1 and chapter 2) underway soon after. I have also been approached about doing an art book.
None of this is just lip service, you know. If i'm going to ask the Megatokyo audience to support me and my efforts, they have to feel that it is worth their patronage. I just got an extra 40 hrs per week to spend on Megatokyo, i'm going to put it to good use.
Some of you are probably wondering when i am going to start begging for money. I'm not going to. Am i going to ask for your support? Yes, i am. I need it. Without your support, I'm not going to be able to do this. But i am not going to put up a 'paypal' donation button and ask you to just send me money. I won't do that unless i really need to - so please don't bug me about it.
Ok, so how do you support MT if i wont put up donation buttons?
Well, I have been working on some ideas that would help support MT, while at the same time give you something in return. Last month we started looking at the idea of providing webhosting on the Megatokyo network - the idea i had was that you could get a piece of space, much like a small room in the 'walled city' in the Gibson novels - a place to upload your own art, avatars, whatever you wanted - unlike the distributed nature of the Walled City, MegatokyoCity.net will be analogous to a physical space in Megatokyo itself. Ukyo is still working on the back end, but it should be up and running by next week. I feel that this is a great way that people can donate something, yet get something in return. I'll post more on the idea next week. It's suddenly a lot more important than it was before.
I've been very reluctant to offer original pieces of artwork for sale online, but i am looking at ways that perhaps i can produce one or two really nice drawings and offer them for auction - maybe more, i don't know. I am also looking into taking on commission work - in order to survive in this business, you have a lot of things going - you can't just rely on one source of income.
By the way, i don't expect every MT fan to buy stuff. In fact, that's a good thing. Most will simply be able to tune in and enjoy the comic like always. And that's how it should be. Megatokyo will always be a free online comic. I will not be changing the site to put in-your-face advertisements on 2/3 of the page. I will NEVER offer popup windows. I will not experiment with subscription based services, or take any comic offline because it's gone to print, or even offer 'premium' services that let you view more material. Everything on this site will always be free and open for use. I prefer it that way. I want people to support Megatokyo of their own free will - not because they are forced to pony up before they get the goods.
Also, one of the best ways you can support Megatokyo right now is to buy the graphic novels, and head over to the Think Geek store and buy a shirt. I've been working hard on the book to make it well worth the $9.95 cover price, and i am currently working on the next round of shirts and other products for the MT store, most of which should be ready by Thanksgiving. Obviously, you'll be seeing a lot more of my drivel here in the rant columns, so I'll keep you up to date. Oh, and did i mention that there will soon be a Sad Girl in Snow Blanket? :)
Anyways, this is almost like a test case to see how feasible it is to make the leap to being a full time webcomic artist in this post-net-boom internet economy. Maybe if i can figure this out, perhaps others will be able to learn from my experiences and perhaps do even better. If nothing else, the ride behind the scenes should be at least as interesting as the comic itself for a while.
Finally, i would like to say... i wouldn't even dream of doing this if it wasn't for all the friends, both online and off, who have given me the encouragement to pursue this. Most of all, i have to thank Seraphim - not only is she my muse, and my conscience, but my cheering section as well - without her, i don't think I'd have the confidence to do this. Someone asked me once if she really did have little angel wings - I replied that yes she does, you just can't see them. If I succeed at this, there is no way i could have done it without her.
So, welcome to the new Megatokyo. It should be an interesting ride, and i'll do all i can to make it as interesting as possible ^_^
(uhm, sorta more important than before ^^;;)