Before we get to the important update stuff, here's your new wallpaper:
As always, you can get the new wallpaper on the site's Wallpaper page. I couldn't tell you why I decided to do a fight scene with a pyrohydra, except maybe the knowledge that it's highly unlikely the gang will ever fight one during the story. But if you're in a part of the world currently dealing with cold temperatures, then hopefully a nice warm-looking scene on your desktop will fool your brain into thinking it's toasty out.
Today is the four-year anniversary of the end of the original pledge drive. I'm not sure exactly what to say on this somewhat unfortunate anniversary; certainly, I didn't expect this to take this long to finish. While something like 99% of you have the physical goods you paid for, most of those who pledged to get a crayon drawing are still waiting for their boxes to arrive in the mail. And all of you are still waiting on digital stories, especially the original O-Chul story that started this thing. I think if I stopped working on the regular comic, I could probably finish everything outstanding for this Kickstarter in about 6-8 months. But presumably most of you supported the reprint drive because you liked the ongoing comic, and you wouldn't want me to stop it in its tracks for the better part of a year.
As a result of these delays, I've had people asking me if I've abandoned the project, and the answer to that is an emphatic No. Let me be perfectly clear: I will never abandon this project, ever. I will see it through to the end, even if it takes another four years. If I'm alive and physically capable of creating comics, this project will continue until every bonus story, every monster miniature, every crayon drawing is finished. This will be true regardless of the frequency with which I post updates here about my progress; even if you don't hear from me for a while, it changes nothing about my commitment to finish. Since the only thing that is going to stop me is my literal inability to produce content, consider each new comic I post over on the website to be a mini-update that says, "Yep, I'm still here."
The other dubious milestone passed since the last update is that the very last of the money raised by this project has now been spent. At the start of the fulfillment phase, I divided the money into two accounts: one for postage, and one for everything else. The "everything else" fund is long gone, having gone toward printing, taxes, and a bunch of other fulfillment costs before the end of 2013. The short version is that expenses exceeded the amount raised, even including the "surplus" that was raised at the end of the project (which ended up being used just to cover unforeseen costs; I never got a new computer or anything), but the print runs that were financed allowed me to cover the "loss" with regular sales through Ookoodook and game store distribution.
But that was all OK because the postage account still had enough to mail out everyone's packages. Well, that account is now empty, too, due to the fact that postage rates have risen several times since the project ended, with overseas rates rising the most dramatically. For example, one package for which I collected $37 in postage actually cost $98 to mail by the time it went out the door. So the remaining crayon drawings that still need to be mailed out will be paid for out of my income from other products—mostly the PDF editions of the books that have been coming out. (The tiny shameless marketer in my head wants me to tell you that No Cure for the Paladin Blues is now available in PDF from Gumroad.) Ultimately, this lack of funds shouldn't affect anyone's package, because I'll be able to cover the postage costs as I go for the handful of drawings I get done each month. I just thought that some of you might be interested in a peek behind the finances for something like this. I might write up a full breakdown of costs at some point, if any of you are interested.
Let's take a look at the scoreboard and see what I've actually accomplished:
The bulk of my work has been on the aforementioned O-Chul story, and it's coming along very nicely. I think you'll all really enjoy it when it's done. One of things you might be wondering is whether this will be just 50-something pages of O-Chul walking around in stoic silence or talking to himself, since he's pretty solitary as paladins go. Rest assured, he will have plenty of people to talk to, some of whom are completely new characters. A sneak preview, you say? Well, I wouldn't normally, but it is a special occasion...
Please welcome Zhou Bo (left) and Saha Kapoor (right) to the story; I blanked out the text to keep their dialogue a surprise. What could these two women have to do with O-Chul and how he got his famous scar? Obviously I'm not going to tell you right now, but I will tell you later. In story format!
The other thing I've been trying is to draw one monster for the next Monster for Every Season packet every day when I sit down to work. That's why that's been inching up on the Work-o-meter despite my general focus on O-Chul. I can give you a sample of that one, too:
Yes, I just sent you a dretch butt. You're welcome.
That's about all I have to report, and I don't think I could top that anyway. As I've said so many times over the last four years, thank you for your continued patience and support. You're the best.