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(From Overcompensating. Click on the thumbnail for full sized dares!)

It seems to be a Websnark tradition to talk about Wigu on New Year's Eve. Last year at this time, we were discussing the poignancy of Wigu's ending -- which itself was a dramatic move. Here, Jeffrey Rowland had an amazingly popular comic strip, but since he'd played it all the way through, he was ready to end it and move on to something new.

Yeah, that didn't keep.

See, Rowland had made his comic strip his business. And he discovered that Wigu Tinkle was now a scamplike weight around his leg. Now, I was one of those people who really, really loved WIGU-TV. I loved Science Cop. I loved American Platypus. I thought it really represented Rowland's move to a new level of storytelling. And I loved the sheer Chutzpah of ending a successful comic just because Rowland had finished the story he wanted to tell.

But, as it turns out, a lot of people didn't. Rowland lost readers. And the readers (and their merchandise purchasing power) enabled Rowland to... you know, eat.

So, WIGU-TV disappeared, and a new Magical Adventures in Space comic appeared. And Rowland did that for a while, and then returned to Wigu. And, hey. It was good. I don't think Jeff Rowland is constitutionally capable of doing sucky work.

But... I dunno. A little of the spark was gone.

But, as it turns out, that spark had moved over to Rowland's journal comic, Overcompensating. A simply little daily diary about Jeff Rowland's adventures fighting the Sith, dressing up, hanging with Baby and Weedmaster P and generally being a simple billionaire cowboy poet.

And here it is, New Year's Eve... and Overcompensating is more popular than Wigu.

Rowland has now posted that he's thinking about changing the way Wigu works. He's thinking about using the time he spends making Wigu to make longer stories offline, which he can put up in blocks, sell as print comics -- whatever seems to make the most sense. In his own words:

The kind of comic I want Wigu (and American Platypus and other associated materials) to be can no longer be restricted by a "daily" format. These little stories need to be told all at once, not with just cliffhanger after cliffhanger. I'm thinking of releasing a montly "mangazine" of sorts. It will be something that's available for free both online and offline (as a small book available for purchase online and in stores who want to offer it - the paper version would have extras like short stories, etc). I'm looking for ways to make the paper version to be a nice little full-color job, around 24-36 pages a month. Basically I'd like for the 9pm-2am time slot in my current daily schedule (when I typically draw Wigu) to go toward something more creative and profitable and fun.

This is a pretty cool development, for my money. It's moving in the direction Rowland wanted to go to last year, but without the day to day grind of cliffhangers and punchlines. He gets to stretch himself artistically (which seems to always been what Rowland wants) while not starving to a horrid death in the meantime. And it helps Rowland evolve the model he uses to make his money. His Dumbrella associates will be on hand to see how successful it is, as well. By this time next year we might see quite a few creators go in this direction.

I think it's a credit to Jeff Rowland's skill that he's built his journal comic up to the point where he gets the flexibility to change Wigu and other stories. Over the course of the year, he seems to have learned what he needs to do to tell the kind of stories he wants to tell, while still maintaining his readership and his ability to eat. And I'm excited to see where this goes next.

And, I guess next year we'll meet here and talk about how he's done.

Happy New Year, all!

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 31, 2005 12:43 PM


Comment from: Lyndon W posted at December 31, 2005 1:51 PM

On the comic: PARADOX!

Comment from: William_G posted at December 31, 2005 2:08 PM

You know, legend has it that Herge grew to hate Tintin until he was in his grave because his readers and editors wouldnt let him do anything else.

Poor guy.

Comment from: jeff rowland posted at December 31, 2005 2:14 PM

Thanks Eric! Have a good new year and good luck with MT.

Comment from: lucastds posted at December 31, 2005 3:07 PM

But it seems that Rowland actually likes drawing Wigu.

The thing is, the comic has certainly evolved beyond what a daily thing can do. It's now about weird long adventures, and the daily format is sort of squashing its magic a bit.

So I can see why he's doing what he's doing.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 31, 2005 3:11 PM

lucas -- so can I.

I think this is brilliant. I really do.

Comment from: Enigmation posted at December 31, 2005 3:23 PM

Jeff, has the "Snakes on a Plane" attention played a part in the visitor difference between the strips?

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at December 31, 2005 5:07 PM

I certainly do not think it is a bad move for Rowland to be headed in. I will admit, the prospect of maybe having more Overcompensating tickles me in all the right places.

The real thing that tickles me is the idea of being able to buy short installments of Wigu in little magazines. The awesomeness factor has fired clear through the roof.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at December 31, 2005 6:04 PM

The idea of having an online comic for popularity and a paper comic for relaxed creativity and money intrigues me. It is indeed brilliant.

I was hoping for a Jeff snark, if only to comment that I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that OC is more popular than Wigu. I think OC is saucesome, but it's also kind of too absurd.

Comment from: ormond_sacker posted at December 31, 2005 6:06 PM

If anything diminished Jeff's spark, it had to have been moving from the OKC to dreary, soulless Boston. What else but the fertile red clay of Oklahoma City could have produced Jeff Rowland, The Flaming Lips, and... ?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 31, 2005 6:10 PM

Technically, I think Jeff lives in Western Massachusetts, not Boston. I think.

It's not like I'm stalking the man!

Comment from: ormond_sacker posted at December 31, 2005 6:20 PM

...and nothing else. Friggin HTML screwing up the punchline, hate it so much.

On preview - well, Massachusetts, Boston, one of those commie blue states where they couldn't noodle a catfish if their lives depended on it.

Comment from: wingie posted at December 31, 2005 7:31 PM

Jeff Rowland does in fact live in Western MA, which is like 4000 billion times better than Boston, and Jeff Rowland is responsible for 30 of those 4000 billion.

I am glad that someone in the "webcomics journalism" scene loved WIGU TV as well. I really really wanted to know what happened to American Platypus. Also, I bet I'm not the only one who was saddened that we didn't get to see Science Cop's son doing science in the Future.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at January 1, 2006 5:20 AM


Comment from: larksilver posted at January 2, 2006 1:46 AM

Alexis: WAHOOO! I'm so glad to see Little Dee again! Thanks for the reminder that she's back!

Happy New Year, everybody.

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