Monday, December 25, 2023

No New Chapter, But Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Hello, friends,

I’m writing to you today on what is still technically Christmas Day for me (even if it’s 1:20 AM when I started - I have a late night schedule).  I want to start by wishing you all a happy holiday, whatever you might celebrate - even if you don’t celebrate anything.

Divinity knows we need happy days in these trying times.

As you are no doubt aware by now, I don’t have a new comic for you this Christmas.  This is the first Christmas since 2019 that I didn’t get a comic out, breaking what would have been a five-year streak.  I’m really sad about that, but I’m also not in a position to really do much about that.

At the end of this post I’m gonna make a small little ask of you.  It won’t cost you more than a minute of your time, but if you’re a big Alleron fan, do read this.  Consider it my honest reflections on where the comic lies.  No worries - it certainly isn’t going to disappear forever. It just means there's a lot going on in my life that kept me from getting this done.

And not for entirely negative reasons!

Let me explain myself.

After all, this is the first year since 2017 I’ve gotten a novel out (it’s the finale to the Physics Incarnate world, but it works great for newcomers, too!) - and the first year since 2020 I’ve put out any kind of official publication.  It’s the first novel I’ve worked with an editor for, and I think that good work is evident in the text.

It’s dedicated to my father.  It took a lot of work and time, especially in the last few months.  Work on it only ended around December 3rd, and it came out December 15th.  And around that time I really wanted to get something together for Alleron, even if it was just a tiny tack-on to the story as a promotion for the book coming out.

…Which is right around when my family and I had our latest bout with CoVID, so I couldn’t really do much of anything to get a last-minute comic together.  In fact, I still don’t feel entirely great, though that might just be some other ailment kicking my rear end.

So, the formula is: Novel + Coronavirus + Other illness and physical injury + mourning the second anniversary of my dad’s passing while cleaning out and preparing to sell the house I grew up in = No new chapter.

…I may have left out a minor Baldur’s Gate 3 addiction, but that's a big enough list already, right.

But What If You’re Just Here For Alleron?

So here’s where I discuss the future of the comic.

In my head, I have a story.  I have a few different paths and/or orders the story can take place.  For example, do I want to do the tournament/training arc now, or an at-sea arc where the characters are on boats for their journey back to Bluefield?  I’m leaning towards an at-sea arc, since that might be more doable with my current situation.

I don’t want to build gigantic Lego sets to eventually have to move houses (Our situation is a medium-term one at this time, which isn’t bad, it’s just medium-term, 2-5 years) and have to transport them either piecemeal or collectively.  I’ve seen far too many sets get destroyed beyond repair to want to go through that work.

For instance: Building the entire Lion Knights’ Castle only to have it broken beyond repair is not on my list of things I want to do.

Furthermore, I’m spatially constrained in a relatively small house, which leads to the appeal of an at-sea arc - I just lay down a blue blanket to be the ocean and put Lego boats on top of it.  Boom.  Sea arc.  Easy with some camera trickery.

But I’d still need to basically build a shoreline scene or two, somehow - though that, at least, could be ditched once the setting is no longer necessary.

But Can I Do All Of This…?

I honestly, genuinely don’t know.

In the short term, maybe even the medium term, yes.  I can build a shoreline.  I have most of the bricks I’d need, I have some little boat sets, and with the right formula - That is, “Comfy Chair” plus “Pain Meds” plus “Heating Pad For Spine” plus “Space to work” - I could put that together.

But ultimately I’m afraid that my artistic capabilities are not going to live up to my artistic vision.

I’d love to do a hand-drawn comic, but with a fine motor skill impairment that makes building Lego bad enough, I don’t think my art would do well enough.  And, no, I believe AI “art” is more like theft since it’s trained on a database collected without the artists’ consent, so that’s not an option.

I kind of tested the waters with commissioning an artist (Frosty’s work is here), and I’m sure I could find an artist I could work with, but that money has to come from somewhere - and it doesn’t come from this comic.

I’d also probably want to legally incorporate something or another if I were to hire an artist for such an expansive task.  In all likelihood, I’d need to hire more than one person for a project like that.  It’s basically starting a whole new “branch” to my business of creativity, and that would require some legal protections for everyone involved, including real, lawyer-drafted employment contracts.

And…The comic’s readership hasn’t justified that investment, thusfar.  Chapter 59 was about 2.5x longer than most chapters, it came out on October 8th and it only garnered 46 views in over two months.  Frosty’s hard work (Seriously it's awesome) only got 44 views.  Chapter 54 is the last one to break 100 views (though 57 is at 95 views).

And those are just, “This person or web-crawler bot clicked on and peeked at the site,” not “This person read it and really engaged with the material” indicators.  They don’t tell me who is engaged and who is just peeking in and turning away.  And, lately, the stats have been suggesting that more people are turning away than are engaging.

So, Then…Now What? What's The Ask?

But maybe analytics are off.  Maybe you’re reading this and you think, “Wow, I’m here!  I want to see more!”  And, if so, first of all, thank you.  From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for reading something I’ve created.

Second, here’s my ask:  “Really cheer this project on!”

All I’d ask you to do is to share the comic’s first chapter on social media, or with your friends, or whatever.  When applicable, tag me on whatever socials you use (I’m usually @JPohlmanWriting), and I’ll let you know you’ve been seen.  I’ll even honor whatever counter-requests you have.

But, as for the plan?  Basically:  Initiate them into the story you love.

Chronicles Of Alleron, at least in its current form, is free and always will be.  If it’s made into a hand-drawn comic adaptation where I hire an artist, well, that might be something I charge for.  And Lego is a passion of mine since childhood.  I love telling stories using Lego as a medium!  But when life is overwhelming I have to manage my resources somehow, and this year, Alleron just wasn’t able to fit in.

I’m sorry to those of you who were looking forward to a new strip this year.  I’m sorry I just couldn’t get that done.

But if you, dear reader, show me you’re interested in seeing more of the comic, then I’ll go out of my way to make it happen.

If I’m shouting into a void, well…I’ve honestly got to save my breath a little, these days.

Let me know.

My warmest regards,

And my deepest love,

–Jesse Pohlman

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