This here’s a story about comics, loss, and dedication. Take a good look at that comic up there. Some of the art looks Pretty Bad. Some looks Quite Bad. Last Saturday, I got taken taken down with a flu – not the “Oh I’m sniffly and sneezy variety” but rather the good old fashioned “You are going to spend 30 minutes trying to raise enough energy to lift your hand and move it over a foot to pick up a piece of paper because you’ve been drained of all will to live” variety. My fever was up in the hundreds throughout Saturday and Sunday and Monday and I just could not move.
Which is when the delusions started kicking in. They aren’t joking when they talk about A Fevered Brain. I was absolutely convinced that I was at the center of this vast game called Wall Street where blocks of commodities were being traded based on what position I was lying in, and whenever I closed my eyes I had the voices of hundreds of men in my ears barking totally conflicting orders about what I needed to do and deep within all of that was some glimmering gleam of rationality trying desperately to make sense of the rules of the game, thinking that, if only I knew the rules better, I could make them all happy, not even entertaining the possibility that this was all absurd, a paranoid jig cooked up by a frying brain.
So, I would be down for about four hours at a time, and then finally would scramble together enough energy to push myself up and drag my pencil across the page and then my pen to create episode 579. Usually I like to have Tuesday’s episode done or at least penciled by Friday, but ECCC sketches always through a wrench in those plans, and so I had nothing going into the flu except the script that I’d fortunately written months and months ago. It took me three days, scratching out panels in bursts of ten minutes, to produce this episode, and on the last day I was just so exhausted and weak I was viewing the page through this weird time delayed filter.
But it got done. It was in Geoff’s hands by Monday afternoon and he finished it that night. It didn’t launch on Tuesday only because it’s generally my job to put up the launch code on Monday night and I had just plain forgotten to do that part. Now, there is a lesson to take away for all of you prospective independent comic makers out there – I know webcomics seem like a decadent bon bon, and webcomic creators self-obsessed hipsters, but to be ready with new content every week for years upon years is a large obligation, and most of us take it incredibly seriously. Frederick the Great is a delightful romp, a glimmering point of light in a day otherwise spent grading exam papers, but my devotion to telling the story is anything but a lark. Could I have just waited two days and put out an episode that looked much much better? Yup. Certainly, long term, it would have been smart – I’ll probably have to redraw this episode if we ever collect it. But a webcomic is a relationship between a story, a storyteller (or two in our case) and an audience, and it’s our job to give you a bit of foppery every Tuesday and Thursday and by gum, that’s what we’ll do!
– Count Dolby von Luckner