Hey, it’s me, Alex, the Artist/co-creator of NN4B. It is my unenviable task to inform the readership that No Need for Bushido will be going on an indefinite hiatus in three more updates. And by indefinite, I mean at least a couple of years. To attempt to prevent any mass suicides I feel I’d best explain this sudden and horrific news! It’s a long story, but I’m going to cut it down to a couple paragraphs.
As some of you may be aware, I’ve been working on this comic for ten years, a long time to work on a single project by any stretch of the imagination. In that time, I’ve had a lot of fun, gotten to know a lot of great people through the comic, traveled a bit, and generally felt like I was creating something worthwhile. I still feel that way, but I would be lying if I said NN4B is artistically fulfilling. I’ve expressed frustrations to my friends for nearly five years now, half the life of the comic, that I felt trapped by it. It’s just popular enough that I feel justified continuing it, but not popular enough to really justify putting all my artistic time and energy into it. I’ve tried many variations to see if I could incorporate other artwork into my schedule while still producing the comic at the level of quality that I feel comfortable with, but I’ve found that it hasn’t worked for me. The balancing act of making the comic look the way it does (not the greatest, but certainly a high quality for a free to read comic) and updating frequently enough to maintain site traffic while also trying to do other artwork has simple burnt me out.
I still love the characters and want to tell the story to the end, but I don’t want to continue the series at its current pace because I’ll be spending the rest of my life on it. I also can’t update faster since I simply don’t have the time to put into more pages than the one a week. The truth is that my skill level as an artist just is not where I want it to be; I want to have the time available to improve my drawing speed and accuracy and my digital painting skills. I’d also like to learn some programming, and take a stab at traditional and web based animation. I essentially want to be able to tackle personal self-improvement projects with timely achievable conclusions, and compile a varied portfolio of work that I could then use to net in either enough freelance work to POSSIBLY make it a full time career, or at least get some sort of design job. In all honesty, I’m not certain what type of artwork I want to be doing, perhaps it will be comics in the end, but I want to try out more than cartoon samurai. I think my dream job would be concept artist, but I’d need to develop some asian-level artistic abilities. Perhaps that’s feasible in two years if I stay focused on artistic skill building.
So, in summary, the comic is going on hiatus because I’m having some sort of early midlife crisis. I keep thinking about how impressive my portfolio and artistic abilities would be if I’d produced a new illustration every week for the past several years instead of a comic page, and it makes me wonder why I haven’t stopped the comic altogether. But then I look at the comic, and I feel a great deal of pride for the story its telling, the characters that inhabit it, and the fan base it’s attracted. Every time I talk to another comic creator about various problems they’ve had with their fans I can’t relate because I have never had cause to complain about NN4B’s readership. Seriously, you’re the envy of webcomic creators across the net!
During the comic’s hiatus, I will be posting updates on whatever projects of self improvement I’m working on, turning nn4b.com into an art blog in the process. Concerning NN4B Volume 1, I actually didn’t intend for it to finally get back from the printers so close to the hiatus. Joe and I expected to be selling Volume 1 three months ago, so it was really unlucky timing. We’ll still be working on Volume 2 and 3 during the hiatus because I have every intention of returning to NN4B in the future, I just need some time without it hanging over my head for a while. When the comic does return, I would like to be a much faster artist than I am currently, and I’d like to bring it back in a black and white format with a three page a week update schedule, and colored ‘chapter’ covers. It would be a visual reboot, with tweaks to the character designs to make them more easily distinguishable from one another in black and white, but it would pick up the story just where it’s leaving off. I should say that this was not the ideal spot in the story to hiatus the comic for me, but to wait until we reach the spot that I’d originally intended to have a hiatus would’ve taken another two years at least, I think. At least we’re not ending it on some sort of dire life or death cliffhanger, though!
In the end, this might be the best course of events for the comic. I feel really good about it, even though I’m stressed out just typing this news post. To satisfy anyone’s curiosity, Joe and I were not at odds over this, although he’d love to see the comic not hiatus at all, as I’m sure all of you are as well. Still, he’s listened to me moan about wanting to hiatus for years now. This is totally a personal decision on my part, and Joe has no interest in continuing the comic with an alternate artist, although I wouldn’t be opposed to that. Joe is also interested in doing a kickstarter of some sort to essentially employ me as a full time artist for the comic, which would give me both the chance to update more and the free time to work on other art. I don’t think the comic has enough readership with the cash flow to make that happen, though, but I’m not going to discourage him since the idea is certainly wonderful. Certainly he’ll post something about it if or when he nails down the details. Feel free to leave comments below concerning the hiatus, and I’ll respond to any questions or thoughts.