October 15th, 2010

Stress Puppy

For Three Years Perfect Attendence? Extra Time Off!

Today is the anniversary of Stress Puppy.  The strip started approximately three years ago today.

What initially had me going, Yeah!  Three years and still going! instead has me going, Yikes!

I'm wondering if I should put Stress Puppy on the back burner for a while.

The problem is the current storyline, The Paper Chase.  Keep in mind, in a strip, you only have the strip to convey the joke, the actions, the characters, and the plot, in that order of importance.  Yesterday's strip is the second time I've included a "time shift" element to skip through the plot.  Doing only four panels while trying to advance each of those points not only really stretches things out, but I'm not sure what kind of jokes I could make in each.  Remember, in comic strips, the joke is king, and anything that detracts from it HAS to go.  The fact is the plot may have been a little too complex for a comic strip.

There's also the fact that, working on the strip, I get a sense of deja vu.  In a way, The Paper Chase has a bit in common with Package Deal.  I feel like, even though the gags are different, I'm repeating myself.  I had a similar reaction to Cash On The Barrelhead, coming so soon after ...And One For All.

I had mentioned that I would do the strip until I ran out of ideas.  The problem is, I've suspected for a while that I'm closer to the end of the series than the beginning.  I have a few more ideas left, maybe four more stories.  Other ideas are still coming to me, but they no longer gain that clarity, when I think about them and know exactly how the plot is to proceed and how the characters will fit in and how they will interact and....it's just not happening any more.

I've been doing Stress Puppy for three years now.  Over 320 strips and a 54 page graphic novel.  I love the cult following, it's great to hear from the readers and get props.  I mean, I love comic strips.  I have one of my own.  And this isn't something just to say, "I'm doing it," it is genuinely enjoyed.  But with it becoming harder and harder to proceed, I'm thinking I need a little bit of a break.

This isn't to say the strip is gone completely.  I would still finish those last stories and any others that occur to me later (and I won't leave everyone hanging, I will wrap up The Paper Chase first).  Raff and Holly and the gang aren't going anywhere.  And I can still do the occassional single strip like Holly doing her bad stand-up or whatever.  But I think, after three years, I need to set things aside, let the gang recharge.  Get some freshness going in my system again.

There are two reasons to do things -- to get paid, and because you love them.  And I love Raff and Holly and the gang too much to lose the love.  I want to look at the strip and go, "You did good there, Peter," not, "Jesus, why did I let that go on so long?"

What do you, the viewers at home, think?