I've debated a lot about this blog and when (or mostly, if) I should post it. I was given sage advice early on in DarkBrain history to never post negative information as it has a horrible impact on sales. As I pondered that over the years and various marketing attempts, I started to gain a better understanding of general comic book marketing. I think a lot of the industry is a facade, and perhaps that is just how it must (and should) be.
But for DarkBrain, does it really matter anymore? It is pretty clear that I've tried many things over the years to build a sustainable model and have failed. The latest push was to make Butcher free and hope to gain enough new readers to be able to get donations to create more issues. That didn't happen. And that's just... reality.
At the same time I could give a litany of other things that have hurt the project, but above all I think the main hurdle is simply discouragement. I have been fighting the growing sense that DarkBrain represents a bad path I took that had dire financial consequences. Heck, fight it I might, but you really can't win against... reality. There is no question I put too much into the project and failed. While I really am proud of the work I created, I can't be proud of my decision making in doing it. It's a mixed bag, but maybe more things in life are like that than we think (or hear about, remember "never post negative information.")
So, can I face that and map out a future for DarkBrain? That's what I need to do, and it's not been easy. On one hand, if it is just not going to be sustainable, should I just ditch everything and work on Boneeaters? That is the current project that feels the most "fun." Maybe no new content for 3 to 6 years as I do that "right"? Yow, that's a long haul. It's doable, it does make sense, but does it create too big a crater in DarkBrain? Or, should I just drop the entire DarkBrain project and move on? I've done that before (I created and ran mrfixitonline.com with millions of monthly visitors for several years, then let it retire to the ether).
One thing is clear, I need to let go of my very ambitious projects such as ASCENSION (the continuation of Mirror, Church, Rashida, Witches - as a single title with a massive universe) and CORTEX (the contiuation of Locked Out, Underbelly, the Vat, and God Play - again as a single title with a massive universe). Those projects had a lot of amazing ideas, killer endings, epic global-changing dogma fighting, and much more. But I am not going to have the money to make either happen as each had on tap over a thousand pages of comic content left to do. Face that, Andrew, and let them go. OK. Doing so now. Goodbye to both. I will simply hold on to those endings as an epic personal fantasy that will stay personal.
Back to what can I actually do. Well, not much. My personal finances had an apocalypse that has gone on for several years now, and will continue as I recover, so if I am to do anything, it has to be small. So options would be: Zeopatra, Haunting Ivy, Boneeaters, or (maybe) The Butcher. Why The Butcher? It failed to create enough to sustain itself... but it was our most popular title. It also is well into the second act, with some really cool story to tell now that Vergilius is in Rome and Cailin is marching with Gaul.
So what would it mean to continue The Butcher? First, have to use a new artist - burned that bridge pretty hard. Thankfully, have one ready to go. So that's a no-brainer. But what about the story? Last run I had an epic meltdown with writers that led to me writing the last few issues. But I don't think I have enough in me to finish this series by myself. It is now too complicated for my skills (just honestly assessing my limits as a writer) as we have some really meaty conspiracy and loads of new characters to evolve. So I'll need help. I asked and was able to snag Crystal Storm, who had written many prior Butcher issues and other notable work for DarkBrain including The Witches Three, Zeopatra and Envoy 82 (which I adore).
With a good road map of where the series is going and a great writer attached, I've begin to have new issues written. Will see how far I can go on that with our small budget and assess when we start some artwork. The format will be different: the issues will be longer, the art will be black and white (more like the inspirational Savage Sword of Conan series), the stories will be more complex, and there will be less x-rated content. We will still have x-rated material in every issue, but I need more room for the story, so I'm looking at one sequence per issue with the issues being longer. There is just too much story to get through, we need the room!
And the series can't be free. For it to survive, it has to be for fans who want it to survive. Over the next few days our site will get upgrades to make this more clear.
So, watch for new blogs as this process moves along. Issues 23 and 24 are half scripted now and looking great.
June 14, 2018