Some time ago, Dan and I were talking in Boston's Comicopia
, one of the best comic stores I've ever visited. He mentioned that the comics-ex.com domain would be lapsing soon. June, I think he said. He asked if I wanted to renew it, and pointed out that our web counter says we still get hundreds of hits weekly.
"I don't believe we have that many visitors," I said. (And please forgive me if these aren't exact quotes; I'll try to paraphrase as best as possible, but I'm not a fictional character who can recall everything that was said in an exchange of dialogue from months ago.)
I told Dan, "The web counter must be broken. And even if there are that many people who still visit our site, that means our audience has dwindled to loyal friends and people who have nothing better to do than visit a page that never updates." (No offense intended if you fit the second category, folks.) By that time it had become clear to us that we would not be updating CXM with new comics anytime soon, and updating what is nominally a comics site with nothing but news posts and columns seemed a little stupid to me, anyway. If no one's reading the thing anyway, why leave it online?
"What would we do with all the content, then?" Dan asked.
"Take it all offline," I suggested. "Do you realize that we had no idea how copyright law works, and that those comics aren't covered by parody laws? That site is a copyright infringement suit waiting to happen."
"Oh, there aren't that many strips that use copyrighted characters."
Then I counted them off the top of my head.
"Oh," Dan said.
I think Tony's all for renewing the domain because he gives out his comics-ex.com email address to people frequently. I don't know what Kai thinks, but he's chronically agreeable, so he'd almost certainly side with whatever seems convenient in keeping the peace. Dan said that we should renew the domain because we get so many visitors. But if we get so many visitors, you'd think that more than two people would have responded to my public plea to let me know you're out there (thanks for your responses, Matt and Chris).
You know, I said a year ago that "it's pretty safe to say you can expect to see more comics, essays, and other fun stuff here at some point," and, as you know if you've been to this site at all in the last year, that never happened. As I acknowledged in February, we "publicly embarrassed ourselves by promising updates on a comic site and never delivering." (And I talked about being a pirate and easily distracted and so on and so forth, but that's neither here nor there.) And I concluded that we four would go on to start a new site, and that if people emailed us to let us know that we actually have readers still, then it might help us get going on this thing. You know already how that request turned out.
I have no intentions to draw comics for CXM in the immediate future. That doesn't mean I never will draw a CXM strip again, but I'm not counting on it, and you probably aren't either. Once, I acknowledged in a column that CXM is pretty generic as online comics go -- geeky boys making comics about themselves, and not drawn particularly well. I also said in that column that I did think that there was more to this strip. And, in a way, there was -- I mean, we enjoyed it, and our friends enjoyed it, and a few other random strangers enjoyed it (or so they told us over email), and that's something, isn't it?
But after a certain point, the enjoyment started to wane. Sure, lots of things got in the way. I stopped drawing the thing in large part because I was working as a resident assistant, taking two studio art classes, finishing up my English major, writing an 80-page thesis (100 with references and figures), organizing a student comics publication, and hanging out with the girl of my dreams. But really, I wanted to be drawing other things because I felt limited by CXM for the reasons described in that aforementioned column -- yeah, Kai and Tony sure rocked the photoshop but good, but I wanted to be doing something else. So I stopped. I suppose part of the reason I'm writing this is because I feel that I should publicly acknowledge that it was pretty irresponsible of me to promise updates and then never do the work (not that I was being dishonest, but I said things and then never followed through). I do not miss deadlines when money or academic credit is involved, but what are you left with when you stop loving your labor of love?
We did try to get that personal site going, the one mentioned above. It would be a nice creative outlet, we figured -- we could post writing, animation, comics, whatever. In a moment of true geekery, we even bought a domain: three of us sat in a living room on mac laptops, chatting on AIM with Kai about the project. That site lies dormant now because it needs to be designed before we can put anything on it, and none of us particularly feels like designing it.
We've each got other projects going for us nowadays, of course. Tony took over the UMass Comic Art Society after I graduated, and they just published the second volume of Penny Dreadful. He's going to be at UMass for grad school in the fall. Dan's working at Harvard, soon to be living with another of our high school friends. I hope he's writing stuff. Maybe I should ask him if I see him next week. Kai's at video game school in Seattle, probably playing a lot of frisbee. I'm a night-dweller now, which kind of sucks, but affords me time to work on the script for a graphic novel I'm working on. This paragraph sounds eerily like the end of The Wonder Years, which is kind of messed up, since we all see each other pretty frequently. I guess I'll just skip to the next paragraph.
So what now? The question on my mind is no longer, "Will this site ever update with a comic or column again?" Now it's, "Will this site continue to exist after next month?" Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the answer to that second question should depend on the answer to the first. I'm not closing any doors right this minute just in case. And if this domain lapses in a short time and nobody reads this, at least I got to say what I needed to say.