This morning Howard and I made an executive decision, The Body Politic will not have a bonus story in the printed book. Howard has been wrestling with this story for six months, but it still is not working and we can’t afford the three more months that are necessary for the story to sort itself out. We have to have a new book for the summer conventions. So instead of Howard slogging through despair with this intractable story, we’re going to fill the extra space with interesting new footnotes and marginalia. Making the decision lifted a weight from us. Suddenly we are in the last rush to get the book done, which is always a fun part for me. It is the part where every day I can see us get closer to sending the book away for print. So we are relieved, but we feel guilty for being relieved because we know that there are fans out there who love the bonus stories. They will be sad and disappointed. Also Howard spent some time being sad because he hates to break the bonus story tradition even if it is just for this book. There is also some measure of fear, what if this decision is the breaking point where fans decide we’ve sold out and they all go do something else? Happiness, relief, sadness, excitement, worry, and fear fill our heads this morning.
It has me thinking about businesses, creative projects, and change. Schlock Mercenary will be thirteen years old in June. In the course of those years the strip has seen changes in artwork and story telling with Howard’s growing skill. We left Keenspot, joined Blank Label Comics, then struck out solo a few years later. Switching to the new website was a fearful change, as was hiring Travis to be our colorist, and ending the Schlocktoberfest tradition. We knew that each of these decisions was right, but we worried that our fans would not agree with us. People do not like their beloved things to change. Except things must change. Howard and I have to change. Both the Schlock Mercenary strip and our business need to change and grow or else they will go stale. I’m hoping that some of the time freed up by shelving this bonus story can go into the creation of more electronic editions. Even better would be to launch into production on Longshoreman of the Apocalypse so we could put out two books this year and finally be making steps to catch up with the online archive. Funny how a change can be obvious and necessary, but still feel risky.