Art Team Change and Hiatus
I haven’t done a gigantic news post in over a year, but news has been piling up. Get some snacks and settle in for another...
We are losing Lauri
First of the news is the worst of the news. Lauri Ahonen let us know about two months ago that, after a stellar run as Erfworld’s inker/colorist, he needs to move on. His last update will be page 275, which will post on July 4.
We knew right from the start that Lauri could only firmly commit to about a year or so of drawing Erfworld, because it would fit with his wanting to work from home and care for his toddler daughter before she starts school. I figured we could wrap up Book 3 in that span, nooo problem. After that, we’d see if Book 4 was something Lauri wanted to take on, or if we needed to find someone else to fill the role.
Well, you can read below about how that worked out (and what we’re going to do about it), but the fact is that Lauri extended his tenure to 90 weeks to try and get to the ending, and we’re just not there yet. So he needs to change his focus to the next phase of his career as an artist.
Lauri, we wish you the absolute best with everything your future holds, and thank you for everything you’ve contributed to the story. I think the fans and the team would agree that your tenure here has been the high-water mark for Erfworld’s art.
Xin still penciling, please welcome Lillian on inks/colors/shading!
Stepping into Lauri’s big shoes will be somebody you might remember. Lillian “Honey Badger” Chen almost nabbed the role two years ago. Her audition work back then genuinely wowed us. It was tough to tell her she didn’t get the gig, so it’s nice to be able to hand her the reins now.
Lillian has committed to take over the role, and Lauri’s been generously spending his time working with her on technique and workflow for more than a month. He has also made his illustration files available, so she can refer to them as a learning tool.
That’s not to say that Lillian is going to try and faithfully imitate Lauri’s style. She brings her own tremendous skills and eye to the project, and we want to take full advantage of what she brings to the creative equation. With Xin remaining as lead artist and penciler, I do think this will be a much smoother visual transition than we’ve had with artist changes in the past. Here’s a taste of Lillian’s practice line-work:
Both artists have expressed an open-ended time commitment to the project, so I really hope and believe that we’ll have the team of Xin and Lillian doing Erfworld for the rest of Book 4 and way beyond.
Book 3 splits - is now Books 3 & 4
Did I say “Book 4?” Yes, yes I did. We are in Book 4 now. In fact, we’re much closer to the end of Book 4 than the beginning of it. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
A few people who were at the fan gathering at Gencon last year heard me mention this possibility, that Book 3 might need to split and count as two books. When Page 141 went up, a lot of people commented that it felt like an end-of-book page. It definitely does, but I wasn’t ready to call Book 3 done yet. I had more stuff (such as the Bunny arc) that I really wanted to include. But I said that if the story went on at least another 141 pages, then I would call the second half Book 4.
So “Erfworld Book 3: Hamsterdance vs. the Charlie Foxtrot” ended on page 141. We are now in “Erfworld Book 4: Lies and Dolls.” We’ll tweak the archives and probably figure out a script to update the wiki soon. For reasons of spoiling, I will not say how close we are to the end of this book, but it certainly will go past page 282 (page 141 of Book 4).
July and August hiatus for main story
Okay, so some of you might argue that this is actually the worst news in the post, but we need to take a big long break with the main story arc. After Lauri’s final page on the 4th, we don’t expect to return to our normal update schedule until Friday, September 1st.
There are a ton of reasons we need to do this. At the top of the list is giving Lillian all the time she needs to get comfortable in the role. But there are also some lessons to be learned from the past 2+ years of doing the Toolshed, and especially from 2017.
We posted an average of 65 updates per year (not counting Backer Stories) in the eight years before we rolled out the Toolshed. I always thought we could do better than that if we just got some additional firepower on the art team and developed the right workflow. But that was always sort of hypothetical.
Now we have some results to look at. We’ve been on an on-time update pledge system for a little over 2 years, and we have posted 228 updates in that span of time. It’s around 100 a year.
So it has worked really well from the standpoint of productivity. Having a concrete figure associated with missing an update has led to a lot of “doing whatever it takes” to get the page finished, correct, up to snuff, and posted on schedule. I wouldn’t say the quality has suffered, either.
Unfortunately, “whatever it takes” has included a ridiculous amount of personal sacrifice for all three of Erfworld’s creators. And it has cost Erfworld a lot in other ways. You’ve probably noticed a lack of Toolbox content and pin-ups. That’s not us not caring, it’s us literally not having the time. In 2017 we have been spending every productive waking moment we can, just trying to keep on schedule.
Likewise with Dwagon Master badges, posting news items, approving Hamstards, updating the IRC quote and the wiki, and posting any of the Backer stories that I still owe to our patient and generous supporters, I used to have time in my weekly routine to spare some attention for some of these things. At this point I can barely answer reader emails and PMs and Erfworld Facebook page messages. I haven’t updated the “Last Book Rob Read” widget in a year and a half, because I literally have not had time to read a book in a year and a half. For an author, that lack of input is toxic.
There are genius writers in the world. There are flow-state writers who can bang out a quarter million flawless words of prose a month. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I’m a grinder. I can fuss for forty minutes just to get two stubborn paragraphs to work together and convey what I need them to. If Erfworld is good, it’s only because of brute force thinking, just hours and hours and hours of close attention to detail. (And I still miss things.) Even lettering a page has been known to take me eight or ten hours of fretting over everything from the line breaks in the dialog, to brain/google-storming a funnier SFX gag than I put in the script, to evaluating 40 different tail placements on the same damn balloon and trying to decide which pixels are most important not to cover up.
This stuff matters, in ways I can’t always adequately describe. I care a whole lot about not letting it suck, so that you guys will enjoy it. And even so, I still miss things. When I get something wrong (yes, Parson already knew about Bonnie telling the Minds about Charlescomm, and I will Retconjure that), it eats me up way more than you’ll ever understand.
So I need to face the tough reality of what it takes to create this story to the standards we’ve set for ourselves, and how much I can really do in a week/month/year.
Last week marked 10 years since the last day I worked for a paycheck. I forget the exact day, but sometime in late June of 2007, I left my IT career to follow my creative passions. At the time, I had two webcomics and a comedy music career going, and I made funny t-shirts to sell at conventions. Every project that wasn’t Erfworld has been jettisoned since then, but I haven’t done any other kind of work in that span.
When I was a data analyst/developer, I can remember working at places where they only really needed about one day’s worth of hard work out of me per week. I also remember some places that looked at you funny if you left while the sun was still up and you weren’t in the office at least every other weekend. Writing Erfworld is harder than any of them. It’s by far the most demanding work and the longest hours that I’ve ever spent at any job or school.
In 2014, we didn’t know how fast we might theoretically be able to turn out the comic. But now we know what the maximum sustainable pace looks like. And while we can certainly do better than 65 updates a year, 100 updates a year just can’t continue. Something needs to change about the production schedule. I don’t know what that is, but we’ll give it a lot of thought during the break.
For now, I am taking advantage of the handover and letting Lillian build up her skills and confidence and a buffer of finished pages. I realize this is in the middle of the Book 4 climactic actions, but the timing is what it is.
I’m taking a big long rest to catch up on my reading, my sanity, my humanity, and some of the promises I have made to our fans and supporters. I need to see a dentist (I have a cavity I keep poking with my tongue). I need to see a movie in a theater (the last one I saw was Zootopia 15 months ago, thanks to my friend Wayne for dragging me to it. Hi Wayne!) I need to throw a frisbee around in the sunshine. I need to go to Finland and marry the love of my life, who is more patient with me than all the rest of you, combined. :)
Lots of stuff posted during “hiatus”
Nevertheless, I am going to try and post backer story updates every Sunday until we return. (If you’re thinking we’re going to miss the revenue from these updates while we’re gone, you’re not wrong. So if you’re a Tool, you might consider updating your pledge to include the backer stories as well.)
I will also post Toolbox stuff, approve some Hamstards, and get caught up on Dwagon Master badges (can anything compete with Chickpea, though, seriously?). Xin has already started to turn back to the pin-up art. We hope to get them all caught up, and postcards too. Anybody who was a Level 2 or above subscriber during the last 10 months will get access to the pin-ups, whether or not you are an active subscriber.
And we’re going to do other stuff to the website, but not so much work that it feels like I am still on the hamster wheel. We’ll spend a little time on gametable.erfworld.com, rpg.erfworld.com, and the unit collection system, which have also been chucked under the bus all year in favor of Kickstarter fulfillment and keeping the updates coming. Speaking of which...
Is there a 3D sculptor in the house?
With Lauri’s departure, we are also losing our modeler for the unit collection system. We’re looking to retool that idea (*cough*), and maybe go with collecting simple gamepiece-style units that will be augmented with sculpted versions later. For reference, here’s what we want them to look like:
If you are an experienced 3D modeler or you know somebody who can do work of this quality, please send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
World fan gathering in Helsinki - Rob and Linda’s wedding!
So this bit of news is the most joyful. We are still going ahead with our plans for a fan gathering at WorldCon in Helsinki, and Linda and I will be getting married at a Helsinki venue to be disclosed later. Date of the wedding is Friday, August 11 and Erfworld fans are invited! If you think there’s even a remote possibility you might like to attend, please let us know at the same email address as above.
Details about the fan event will be posted in the coming weeks sometime, as we get more details.
Kickstarter Wrapped Up, Rewards Sent, Cards Beautiful
We tried to streamline the Kickstarter for the playing cards, but it managed to be twice as expensive and five times as much work as we’d planned for. The amount spent to make the cards and the rewards ultimately exceeded the amount we raised, including for the stretch goals.
I realize that saying that without getting into the details why might kind of make it look like we still don’t know how to plan a project after doing six of them, but these were all-new surprises in all-new territory. Bottom line is that it was still a big success and I am not at all sorry we did it. We got the cards we really wanted, and I’m extremely proud of how they turned out.
Last week, we started hearing from happy backers who were getting their display boxes and decks. By now, I believe that all physical items have either arrived or are on the way. Let us know through Backerkit if you have not received at least an email notification about your backer rewards by the end of this week (or next week for non-US) and Linda will follow up.
We will add the cards to the Erfworld store soon, but we wanted to make sure that project backers got theirs first. And, of course, if and when we hit Milestone 4 on the Toolshed, we will be sending one deck of cards to every single Tool.
State of the Erfworld, closing thoughts
This news post is longer than most text updates, and it took me a long time to write it. I never know how much detail to share, because there are so many ways to misinterpret what’s going on.
I’m grateful for all the amazing work Lauri has done for us. I was hoping we’d have him forever, but we won’t. I’m really looking forward to working with Lillian, though. She has a wicked sense of humor and a tenacity I admire a lot.
The only thing “wrong” right now is just that it’s no fun to be facing my own limits. I do have a couple of chronic health issues that put some limits on me that I have to recognize (nothing life-threatening). But I’m mainly unhappy with myself for not being able to write the book to the end before Lauri had to go (rushing the ending I have in mind would have been a worse mistake, though). And I really don’t like that I can’t keep aiming for 104 strips a year. That doesn’t just affect me, it changes what we can pay everybody on the team. My not being a genius shouldn’t cost anyone else a single dollar, and I feel like crap that it’s going to.
Other than that, though, things are on track. The story’s where I want it to be. The rest of the web and art team is still here, and still doing great work. You all are still the best audience in webcomics, and I’m thankful every day for the ways that you show your love and support for Erfworld.
So, Lauri is leaving, but good stuff is coming. More books are ahead (hey, we gained one today!), plus the unit collection and gametable that will lead us inexorably toward Erfworld tabletop and video games in the next few years. There are so many stories still to be written...
Stand by for all of that fun stuff to come, and we’ll see you in Helsinki! Thanks as always from Team Erfworld.
The artwork with Lauri on the team has indeed been an amazing high water mark, but I have no doubt that Lillian's participation will continue to impress us.
Regarding the hiatus, I'm going to echo some of robertzi7's feedback. I have long lamented the departure of the Toolbox $3 "flat rate", publication-independent pledge. I am highly uncomfortable with the current publish-or-starve donation options-- it makes me feel like I'm extorting Team Erfworld (and slave-driving the team to meet artificial deadlines to boot.) So much so that it took me a long time to sign on to the current pledge system (I kept hoping the $3 Toolbox update would come back!)
So I'm going to take the opportunity of this hiatus to beg for the creation/return of unconditional pledges that are not tied to the update schedule. I would gladly convert my entire current pledge into unconditional donations based purely on a calendar schedule independent of any updates or other "deliverables."
Based on the prior Toolbox subscriptions, I'm clearly not the only avid Erfworld supporter willing to step up in this fashion, but since such an option has yet to reappear, this seemed like an ideal time to speak up.
The entire Erfworld team need to have the freedom to manage to a sustainable pace; I only ask that us fans and supporters be given the chance to provide unconditional pledges to help achieve that sustainable pace.
P.S. Same request again for one-time donations independent of any Kickstarter. If there is such a mechanism already there, I was unable to find it.
Erfworld is great. Your hard work makes it great. I'm going to miss Lauri, because the art has been fantastic, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Lillian will bring.
Most of all: congratulations! May your wedding bring you every joy.
You're making all the right choices. Getting the quality right is more important than the number of updates. Taking the time to get Lillian up to speed is a smart call. Getting some cultural input is essential for you, as a writer. And most of all - love is the heart and center of life. Your marriage is more important than this site is.
So: I'm going head over to the toolbox now and see what level of support I think I can afford. And I'm gonna be here, backing everything Team Erfworld does, whatever you come up with.
And please: post a link to your wedding list. I can't make Helsinki, but I'd love to get you and your wife-to-be a little something, just to say thank you for everything this site has brought me.
Good luck on your future endeavors, Lauri! It's been a pleasure; Erfworld has definitely seen its highest quality since the art team was formed with you and Xin.
Congratulations on your wedding, Rob and Linda! I hope the best for you.
Regarding the pacing, might I suggest Monday-Friday-Wednesday over a two-week period? That ends up at 78 updates, as others have suggested, and leaves you with the greatest amount of time between updates as possible -- and it leaves weekends free. (For further clarification, that would be Monday/Friday on uneven weeks and Wednesday on even weeks.
You could even do a small thing on the inverse schedule (Wednesdays on uneven weeks, Monday/Friday on even weeks) -- like a teaser for the upcoming page, maybe? That doesn't seem like it would be too much work, and it would keep interest up, having some sort of update every M-W-F.
Obviously sad about the hiatus, and Lauri's leaving, though I understand completely in both cases. Just wanted to wish everyone working on the project all the best, and thank you all so much for your hard work. A new Erfworld popping up in my facebook feed is a highlight of any day. Thanks thanks thanks.
Rob, Xin, Lauri, you all ROCK, thank you for everything you've done!
I'm glad that your hiatus will be to improve the quality of your Life, Life is to be Lived my friend!
Boy do I ever wish I could go to Helsinki! Would you guys consider a second stateside wedding reception? Just a thought!!!
Don't worry, do what you must, we'll be here!!!
As for the mad rush to finish on time. I would like to propose a system that allows for a regular subscription, with an option for "bonuses" for on time comics. I do really love the regular updates, but I would much rather have things come out right. I don't think quality has suffered per se, but I think if there was less stress, but still some stress, then it could improve even more.
Anyway, hope you have some good R&R, keep up the good work!
Lauri, you will be dearly missed. Erfworld has never looked so good. Thank you for your awesome work,
Lillian, welcome. You obviously have big shoes to fill, but you have my heartfelt thanks for stepping on to help one of my favorite things continue and thrive.
Rob, absolutely take care of yourself. The work rate and consistency Team Erfworld has been churning at since Laurie joined has been incredible. It doesn't surprise me that it came with a high cost. Thank you. I hope you don't ever feel we took you for granted.
Some scattered thoughts.
I wouldn't mind a 6 updates per month schedule, or whatever it is you decide to go with. I don't know if it would help or hurt the workload if the schedule was one Book 4 update per week with Book 0 updating twice monthly, but I think that might be easiest for the readers to get used to. That way the main story is always at the same pace, with Book 0 feeling like an added treat.
If you do go to 6 updates a month, maybe on the two off days there could be a fan showcase? We already kind of have that, but not on a regular basis, because choosing stuff costs you time. The fanbase is dedicated enough that I'm sure you could find a volunteer to handle the selection process. It would be more informal. Less of a "here is the best thing of the month" and more "Here is something cool you should check out or revisit." Doesn't need to be a recently posted thing. Obviously this isn't a priority to put into place, but it feels like a relatively hands off and easy way to nurture the community.
I am actually really excited for Backer Stories to come back. I like learning more about the world, the shorter story arcs are easily digestible, and soon we won't have to hear people bringing up Digdoug in every reaction threat that has to do with the Dirtmancers.
For unit collection, maybe let us choose a favorite unit to display? You already let us change their names, but if the plan is to roll more out, you should let us show off who we have, and what we named them.
Final thought. I wish I had some kind of useful skills to offer to Erfworld. I only have a part time job, so I can't really justify being a tool, much as I'd like to be. If you can think of any way that the fans can help Erfworld run or run more smoothly, please let us know. You've got a lot of people who want you to succeed. It doesn't all need to be on you.
Maybe it is time for some of the community to step up here and provide content for everyone else. We've got the Tip system already in place, which I personally feel would be really all I would need for what are, in effect, fanfic.
Heck, it's been too long since I've written something. Maybe it's time I started doing some more writing, and starting in someone else's world would be a way to get my feet back in the water, so to speak.
Yanno... now that it isn't June anymore. Because no way am I going to try to challenge Chickpea.
Well. I will be very sad to see Lauri go, because his work with Xin has been frequently amazing. I hope Lillian works out - that sample looks very similar to Jillian's linework under them, but Lauri's strength was definitely his coloring and shading, and Jillian's current design doesn't play to that. (I prefer the old one - it had enough contrast to be interesting, and there wasn't a clash between detailed pauldrons and featureless torso.)
Thank you all for creating Erfworld; it's taught me a surprising amount about how to be intelligent (if such a term ought to exist), and it's one of my very favorite stories. I hope to read it to the end, and then possibly reread it from the beginning. (By the way, a way to conveniently skip Book 2's text updates would be very handy.)
And finally, I wish you joy and good fortune, particularly with regards to the wedding. May it not be the happiest day of any of your lives; but rather one platform in a continuous improvement. And I've heard that newlywed logistics are a bit of a scramble at first, so I absolutely won't hold it against you if it takes a while to get up to speed.
Peace, love and penguins! HoratioVonBecker out.
I've followed Erfworld since the beginning and have enjoyed the ride so far. I hope everything turns out well during the hiatus.
Just some comments on the funding side that might help (or not):
Regarding the Toolbox and money for the bonus strips. I've actually run into an issue where I had to choose between having the bonus strip on or upping my pledge level, the bonus strips were too random at the time and could potentially double the cost per week and I couldn't afford that, but since its been so long without the bonus updates I've ended up paying less than I'd be happy to contribute since the last backer story post. Would it be possible to do something to smooth that out maybe ? Like be able to put an upper limit on the number of bonus updates (like backer stories) you wish to pay for per week / month or set a separate pledge level for them independent of the standard on time update since the other rewards aren't related to them at all ?
If you find the time pressure for the on time updates too overwhelming perhaps , you should consider something of a scaling ? Like x% if it's within a day late and <x% as long as it goes up before the next one is due or something. That would still give you incentive to get it done on time or quickly as possible but it wouldn't cost you 1/8th of your monthly income if you were 20 minutes late.
Congrats on the wedding. Congrats on writing a story that has been compelling and engaging for 10 years.
If G.R.R. Martin can write himself into a corner by adding far too many locations and characters to manage and keep track of in a tidy fashion, it's not any insult to your own writing ability if you've had the same problem. Martin is good enough to be beloved world wide and to be in demand for TV and Movie deals, but, he can't finish his damn story either.
Have you ever considered adding someone to the team to help you? Like... someone to help you to prune plot threads that spread too wildly? Or perhaps some of the side arcs that you've loved to explore could have instead later became Kickstarter reward short stories?
I don't ultimately know exactly where you're going with the story so it's hard to say which side-plots could have been trimmed to move the pace forward more cleanly... but, there probably are some of those, right?
It's kind of like... any creative person taking on a project... when there are no constraints on how much you can write or where you can go, that can end up being the most demanding, time-consuming project.
As a creative professional and hobbiest gaming DM, I know I've written murder mysteries for my gaming group where, I thought I needed more twists, and I thought that I'd made everything too obvious, but, in the eyes of my group, the mystery was tricky and fun, even when I personally thought I'd given too much away.
Erfworld has SOO MANY TWISTS... from my perspective, as a reader, I'd enjoy this comic just as much or more if it had half as many twists and moved forward at a more brisk pace. I know that sometimes you need to stop and explain game mechanics, or whatnot... and I know some readers would disagree. But, I'm also not the only person who has had trouble following all the twists and wondering when more actions will result from them.
i.e. So much is people trying stuff that doesn't work, or gets thwarted, that it's almost weird when FAQ fell or GK fell in a matter of strips. Stuff was happening so fast, and then it slowed dramatically again.
I feel guilty for making this post in the sense that, I don't have the writing chops to do Erfworld. I have mad respect for Rob and the team and I love this comic.
But it feels like part of Rob's challenge might be solved by having a person to help keep the story from jumping the tracks as much... sort of like how HBO came along and cleaned up some of the wild tangents on G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. HBO had the benefit of all of Martin's hard work, and, all they had to do was trim off the loose ends and give some various new character's roles to existing characters instead.
Tyrion ended up in far more of the plot lines than in the book, as did Gendry and Sansa. Instead of introducing a new character to be abused by Ramsay, and forgetting about Sansa for 200 pages, we saw Sansa step into that spot.
Something like that might help Rob to be able to write faster and hit his marks at the pages intended more easily, but without sacrificing the story or quality. In fact, it might improve it.
And we could always learn about headmaster Roger or whomever in some backer funded short, like short stories about Boba Fett written after the first 3 Star Wars, (but before Lucas ruined the prequels).
In any case, maybe none of this is useful advice... in any case, Erfworld is a tremendous creative achievement and I plan to purchase hard copies of each book once the story is finished to add to my KS purchased Book 2.
Another Titan takes his rightful return to the City of Heroes!
And I'm glad you've taken to heart the lesson of pacing yourself and (grudgingly still counts) accepting your limitations.
My morale is of course completely immune to any Loyalty decreases from having to suffer without Erfworld for a few summer weeks.
As much as the pace of this storytelling is agonizing...
Take all the time you need. This webcomic is a Great Work, and like all such works, it needs all it can be given to be done, and done well.
Shoot for 3 every 2 weeks. 78/year is nice. Tuesday, Saturday, Thursday, rinse and repeat.
Good luck. I'll be here.
Great Wall of Text, Rob. Consider me informed, you've done a great job describing the situation.
Lauri's departure is a loss for Erfworld, no two ways about it. Kiitos Lauri, ja onnea matkaan! But hearing how you guys have been planning this transition gives me great confidence. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Lillian's work with Xin.
I am actually glad that you recognize the need for some planned downtime: in my experience there's a good chance the planned hiatus might save you from an unplanned one later on. While I've enjoyed the steady and frequent (really surprisingly frequent, considering the high quality) update schedule, even thinking selfishly, I prefer a sustainable update schedule, whatever that turns out to be, to an unsustainable one. Thinking less selfishly, obviously I do feel you deserve things like days off and vacations.
Congratulations, Rob, on your wedding. Helsinki is a fine place to get married, did it myself (just the once, though.)
See you in Worldcon!
@People asking about direct donations: no such button that I know of, but one could buy Schmuckers in the store (natural Moneymancy) and tip the Schmuckers to Titan?
Good job in keeping the comic going for so long! I am definitely going to miss the updates, but you awesome folks do deserve a long holiday. I'm looking forward to the backer stories, so after all these years I can finally put the check marks to use that say I'm paying for those (and book 0 updates) as well. I just hope that poor Dylan isn't going to remain a mostly lonely doormat like his predecessors. The backers really aren't required to create Anti-Gary-Stus to be likeable. After the 3rd time it gets depressing.
It's sad to see Lauri going, but thanks for all the hard work and good luck in your future! Being able to work for Erfworld for this long is going to look splendid in your resume.
And welcome to the team, Lillian! Man, Rob sure has a way of finding team members whose name implies the opposite gender (aside from David). I mean, Jamie and Lauri still sound female to me, and at first Xin reminded me of Jin Kazama from Tekken 3. And now here you are, with a name that sounds like the male equivalent of Liliane. Maybe I should just call you Lily.
Rob, don't worry about thinking that you're not a genius writer, because those are rare and definitely shouldn't be the standard for your expectations.
I believe that your idea to create a comic/novel hybrid, thus fusing the best of both worlds, was definitely genius! Novels have difficulties describing environments, what a character looks like and action scenes, something that comics can do with just a few panels. Comics on the other hand always struggle when it comes to exposition of plots and motivations, and dialogue scenes are probably boring for the artist, because they have to draw the characters in each panel even though they don't do anything relevant aside from talking. Also novels can be deeper than comics and they generally have a lot more plot per page.
So even though you don't consider yourself a genius writer, you're still a genius creator for making this hybrid work! And like Rock Lee from Naruto, you're a genius at hard work. :-)
I am quite curious about Lily's wicked sense of humor. ^^ I hope that she finds the time to post in the forums, too.
And I'm also quite curious about the tabletop and video games.
Congratulations on the wedding. And you shouldn't be working yourself to exhaustion on a regular basis. If that means cutting Erfworld back to 3 updates per 2 weeks or what have you, then fair enough. Much as I love Erfworld, your health is more important.
Lauri, thanks for the wonderful art you have contributed to Erfworld. Best of luck in what comes next. Lillian, your audition way back was awesome and I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do.
By the way, you mentioned updating our pledges to include Backer stories. How do we go about that?
I wish to express my full support and appreciation for the entire team. Don't worry, folks, our Mallets of Loving Correction are safely sheathed (stowed? stored?) and you're doing great work. We only care about Retcons because we love the comic and want it to be consistent, not because we need to condemn the creators for making errors (they only become mistakes when you fail to correct them).
Regarding pledging methods: I'd like to suggest one inspired by the immortal words of Philip J. Fry: "Shut up and take my money!" No terms. No conditions. No strings. Just you, taking our money.