Woof. We’ve finished our second big story. It’s really strange to be sitting here, writing this, and looking back at all the time that’s passed.
We only made it this far because of our readers, so I’d like to give a shout-out to our regular and semi-regular commenters. We don’t have great tools for gauging who is reading and who is leaving, and whenever you guys talk to us, it brings a strong sense of validation to our work, and helps us remember that we’re not posting comics into a void. You guys all rock and we’re really glad to have you.
I’d especially like to thank those of you who are supporting us on Patreon. We’re at about $70 per month at the time of writing this, and we appreciate every single penny. I know that it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s literally kept the lights on a few times over the summer. This drives home my absolute favorite thing about Ramen Empire – it’s my job. It’s part-time, for sure, and I’m not always sure entirely how to do it, but I adore it, and I’m always a little stunned that so many people have agreed to subscribe voluntarily to a free comic. You are all amazing, especially Phoole. (I missed your show last week because I’m awful. See you Friday!) Because Patreon usually goes to the electric bill, I can safely pun that you all have literally given us the energy to go on.
We have the next book planned out for the most part. The Doll with the Tiger Teeth is done, and Zach and I are already dissecting what we liked and what we didn’t about it. That’s the nature doing creative things.
There are going to be some fairly substantive changes that, overall, we think will make a better comic.
We like our general approach to organizing larger stories into books, but…
We think that DTT highlighted how easily it is to get lost, both writing and reading this sort of story.
So while we’re going to keep telling bigger-picture stories that impact the entire crew of character, we’re going to put our focus more on letting every individual strip tell a story, and smaller collections of strips tell a whole story.
This means that going forward into book three, it should be easier to immediately get what’s going on in the story, and easier to find the beginnings of arcs. Overall, there will be less of a need for new readers to do an entire archive dive before being able to follow along, and less of a need for people who missed a ton of updates to have to click back one page at a time until they maybe find where they were. The chapter back buttons will take people to the starts of arcs, which will have something like 6-10 comics in them, rather than flailing between collections of 40 and 80 comics.
We think that this will solve my primary regret with DTT – which is that the ending let Skyler down. In trying to subvert and engage Noir tropes, we think that we denied Skyler a voice and a role of power in the final few scenes of the story. Shorter arcs connected together would have let us have her spike and ending in different places, and she wouldn’t be fighting for screen time with Mei Li, and sadly, despite my best effort, being a color character getting drowned out by white voices. (Art mimics life, I guess.)
Lastly, We’re changing up the work-flow a bit. I’ll be taking over flatting the images, and I’ll do the lettering at the same time. This will give Zach a break between inking and rendering, and an opportunity to spread the workload around his week in a more efficient way. Ultimately, the look of the comic shouldn’t change – if you can tell which of the few DTT comics I flatted, I’ll give you $20 – but what will change is that we’ll start working toward our ambition of having a Dumbing Of Age-esque buffer, which will give us the time we need to create special content that’s just for Patreon subscribers, and other content still that we can take with us to cons or, god forfend, sell in a bookstore.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. If you’ve got thoughts or input, leave a comment or reach out to us on Twitter over @RamenEmpire. We’ve love to hear from you!
See you Monday with the start of the next arc.