First orders of business! The Kickstarter campaign for After Dark, a comedy webcomic about vampires in the modern age and what happens when society catches on to their existence, is in its final days and very close to making its goal. Go take a look!
Second: One of the extras in the back of Book 2 is an ask-the-characters mini-comic. We’d like to give you guys a chance to send in questions you want to see them be forced to answer, so we’ve set up a question box to take suggestions. You can ask as many questions as you like, and they can be as serious or as off-the-wall as you want – the form’s anonymous, we won’t judge (though when we choose which questions to include we won’t use any above a PG-13 rating or so. And we won’t be divulging major spoilers, of course, though you might get some character backstory here and there if you ask the right things…). Once upon a time we had a Formspring page where the characters would answer reader questions, and it was a lot of fun, so we figured we’d try out the same sort of thing for the book. So here you go, have at it!
Now on to the less fun stuff:
We’ve recently started getting complaints from readers about the hostility going on in the comments. We don’t like censoring people’s opinions, but when they’re interfering with other readers’ enjoyment of the comic or discouraging them from participating in the conversation, there’s a problem. It’s fine if you disagree with or dislike the characters – we’re not writing them to make them “likeable” all the time, we’re writing them to be people. Sometimes they make mistakes or do stupid things (for their own reasons), and some of them (all of them, really) have a lot to learn over the course of the story. And we think it’s pretty cool that readers are able to get behind the characters’ varying points of view – even of characters that WE as the writers don’t necessarily agree with. There are a lot of shades of gray to the comic and its characters, and a lot of opportunity for readers to have conflicting opinions. Sometimes people have very strong opinions, and sometimes people get carried away expressing them, we get that.
But above all else we want ALL our readers to feel welcome to comment and enjoy the discussion, without feeling like they have to be prepared to engage in heated debate to defend their opinions when they speak up. A few people have told us that they try to avoid even scrolling down to the comments because of all the outrage and character-directed hate getting thrown around in recent scenes, and that they’re getting discouraged from commenting because they feel like they’re going to be attacked by people who disagree with them, or like they’re going to start a flame war if they voice or defend an unpopular opinion. And that’s not a good thing. Even if only a few people feel that way, that’s too many – that is not the kind of environment we want to foster for readers to hang out in here. Friendly debate over plot points or character motivation is awesome, but please keep your comments civil and respectful of other readers, and of viewpoints that might be different from yours. You don’t have to inform people of all the reasons you think that they’re “wrong” just because they say something you don’t agree with. And it’s fine if you want to react to the characters with things like “wow, he’s irritating” or “WTF, Kip” or “somebody needs a bucket of ice water to the face” or what have you, but all the name-calling, bashing on, and exhorting violence against your least favorite characters edges on unnecessary, especially when you’re doing it in replies to other readers who may not appreciate it.
Not that these things are happening ALL the time, but apparently they’ve happened enough that some readers don’t feel comfortable voicing their own opinions in the comments. This being the internet, and communication taking place solely through text without any other cues to go on, use of italics and lots of exclamation points can go a long way, even if you don’t intend to sound hostile. So please tone down the (apparent) outrage and be considerate of other readers when you’re commenting. You’re welcome to disagree with people, but be mindful of how you’re expressing it. Have fun, just play nice.
Note that we have no desire to discourage negative opinions or feedback on our work. We are ALWAYS open to honest criticism of the writing, storytelling, art, or anything else – if you think our story is full of godawful plot holes or our writing of the characters is offensive and unrealistic, by all means let us know. But at the heart of everything, this site and the comments are supposed to be for fun – for everyone to enjoy the comic (we hope!) and engage and connect with us and with other readers, not for shouting down people who disagree with your take on how the story should go.
We think all our readers are awesome, and we truly feel honored that you come back here every week to follow our story. Thank you again for reading, and thank you for telling us what you think (good and bad) about the comic.