Wow, 2016 is here at last.  Looking back, 2015 was a challenging year for the strip.  It was a far cry from the 2014 golden age of this comic when I had consistent updates 1-2 times a week for a several months.  I had a buffer back then!  It really does make all the difference in producing the comic.  In the beginning of 2015 a lot of travel ate up what buffer I had, and great hiatus nearly started a month earlier, though it would have let me work on the strip to a greater extent.  Additional duties at work caused for longer days and as I finished my general ed classes, I began diving into the core Graphic Design courses at SNHU and I couldn’t just skim the textbook.  I want to work in Graphic Design someday and that requires focusing on school.  Again and again the comic fell to the back burner for half the year.

A lot of good came about this year as well.  I’ve learned more about digital imagery as the result of some of my classes and can better see areas of improvement.  A year of sketching and practicing, though not seen on this or the old site) has helped me improve some with my core drawing abilities.  While not where I’d like them to be, there is progress and I hope it showed in the comics after the hiatus.  I also got a Wacom Cintiq.  Having spent so much money on one, it motivates me to work harder. It has been a fun tool to have and has helped improve the lettering and inking of the strip but I still feel like it is underused (another thing I hope to rectify as school wraps up).

There is, however, light at the end of this inconsistent update tunnel, although it is 6 months out. So here we go with the outlook for 2016:

The State of the Strip:
Throughout the next 6 months, expect the same routine as the there has been for the past few months.  Mainly, weekly black and white updates.  As I have time, I plan on doing more blog-type content to fill in the gaps.  This content will focus on reviewing whatever entertains me, be it TV and Movie reviews to reviewing types of soda from the local store Rocket Fizz.  I’ll also be making tweaks to the website and filling in the gaps over time so that by this time next year it is a solid looking site.  Another help with this content is that I will be changing additional duties at work so I, in theory, should have normal length duty days.  I’ll also be working more of a rotating shift schedule so that means late nights as I switch my sleep schedule around.   All this will facilitate the creation of content on this site.  That’ll continue through June or so when I finish school.  My off-weeks and holiday weeks like this are usually very productive on some aspect of this site and if it holds true, once school is gone, there will be significantly more time during the week to focus on the strip.

Sometime this summer, I will likely take a week or two of leave as reward for completing my degree where the primary focus beyond day-to-day family duties will be this comic.  The end goal of this little break from work will be to build up a buffer for the later half of the year as well as beginning to color in the past strips for a future book release of chapters 1 and 2.

By late summer/fall I hope to get back to more regular updates.  For a short-form comic like this, once a week is a terribly slow pace for moving along the story.  I’ll build up to doing 2 a week in at least black and white by September while I practice my coloring skills on past issues and get to a point where I can accomplish it fast.  I envision 2 new black and white strips (with occasional colored strips like I have been doing) while coloring at least 1 of the old ones a week until I’m caught up.  If I manage to get caught up, then I may even bump it up to 2 black and white and 1 colored NEW updates each week, but that is a ways off.

Side Projects:
The  two biggest side project will be the initial stages of layout and design for a future print-version of this strip (probably 2017 time frame) and trying to build a community of Crowded Void fans.  That is going to be a task as I will have to rework a lot of comics to appear as sharp on print as they do online.  Beyond that, I’ll probably make a T-Shirt design or two to sell to have some income to use to better promote this site on project wonderful.  I also expect some smaller swag like bumper stickers and the like.

Beyond items related to the strip, I’ll more actively seek out graphic design side projects to build a portfolio as part of a long-term plan to working in Graphic Design.  I am also going to take time and work on digital artwork to put my Cintiq to better use and just simply improve my artistic skills in general.

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So there you have it.  That’s the general outlook of 2016 with regards to my efforts on this comic.  It is near and dear to my heart and every day I wish I could spend the time needed to really make this comic a more stable entity.  For those who have stuck with it since the beginning, I thank you.  I hope you continue to enjoy the crap I put these characters through.  For those just now joining us, I hope you stick with us in the long run. I have some interesting story ideas for down the road and would love for you to take part in them.