IMPORTANT DEFENDERS20+ NOTE ON BOOKS: the higher tier Defenders20+ get, at Level 4, every new book mailed to them for free. At Level 5 that book is signed. And at Level 6 (Chaz) they get a custom doodle in their book (I'll email personal requests to you unbelievable Chazzers soon)! It is important to note that you must maintain that level of support for at least 3 months to be eligible. Since the next book, BROKEN, is coming out in November, if you want it sent free or signed, or doodled in, the time to start that level 4, 5, or 6 Defenders Membership is now, (by August 17th) just to be safe! Details on Defenders20+ levels here.
Hi! It's Leah!
My dad's taking the week off from everything (which is why I get to fill in!). It's his birthday on August 4th and I'd know he'd love for you to celebrate that, and Sluggy Freelance going on for over twenty years (that's crazy!!!), by becoming a Defender20+ if you can.
He's really helped me to foster my love for art and comics all my life and I couldn't be more grateful. Thanks for putting up with me these two weeks! Thanks for letting my dad take a full week off. Happy birthday dad!
First: A minor note on mailed Pawnz and Bookmark rewards!
Because of logistics, we've decided to send out what's owed every two months instead of monthly. It in no way changes what you've earned and what you will receive! It just makes things MUCH easier at mail-time!
For example, that means Gunman Stan McKurt and 'That Dress' Zoë will both go out mid-July. And the Pawnz/Bookmark for July is....
Blackcoat Oasis! (The Oasis who originally faced off with Kusari on that rooftop after meeting Sasha at Le Snootier!)
Next: A Note on Leah's Comic!
You remember when Leah started doing some Guest Artists comics for me? It was supposed to culminate in a 10-comic (two week) extravaganza finale. She finished the art a looooong time ago. And she finished the colors almost 6 months ago. But with the new system we needed to make sure we could run 'guest artist content' that Defenders20+ would, by default, NOT be billed for. The system is now in place so I'm thinking of running the two weeks of Leah artwork somewhere in mid-late July to early August depending on where certain comics fall. These 'Leah Comics' will not change the amount of comics I intent to do in a month, they are additional bonus joy for you all!
What if you did want some pledge-money to potentially go to Leah? You have options! Go to "https://login.sluggy.com/manage_subscription" to see them.
Changing the type of content you pledge for:If you check the (unchecked by default) box "I also pledge this amount to Filler and Guest strips" then you'll be pledging for Sluggy Freelance strips, guest strips (like Leah's), and filler art. But you'll still only be billed for the first 12 strips in a given month by default (for example, if I ran, like, 4 Sluggy strips, 6 Leah strips, and 8 more Sluggy strips, you'd be billed for 12 strips only).
Changing how much of that do you pay for:If you also uncheck the box (checked by default) "Bill me for a maximum of 12 pledges a month." you'll be billed each time content of that type comes up. (for example, if you also pledged for Guest Strips, if I ran, like, 4 Sluggy strips, 6 Leah strips, and 8 more Sluggy strips, you'd be billed for all 18 strips).
Currently there are only a handful of Defenders20+ who have done this and that's all OK by me. I love you all! I just wanted to arm you with confusion-free info. You D20+ already rock as you are!
Finally: THE NOW AND FUTURE BOOKS!
Sadly I can't run the 'Mission Accomplished' banner because the book is not off to press yet. But it's damn close! I'll have the book ready to sell (and send to D20+'ers levels 4 and up!) by the Sluggy anniversary, which is nice timing.
I had really wanted to accomplish three books this year, and I mean three THICK books, as catching up on the books is one of my dreams that the new system is meant to assist with! But I've had issues wrapping my brain around and achieving balance with the new system. For the longest time I was more concerned about comic output than book output. No more to that. I will cut back on comics as necessary (as I already have) and get those HUGE books done from here on out. Book 18 is around 200 pages!
The next book, Book 19, which will be ready in time for the holidays, will be "BROKEN." This centers on a very important book in the series as you know. I'm going to want to handle it right. I'm starting work on it even as Book 18 wraps. Working ahead! Hey! That's new thing for me! ;) Also look for three big books in 2019, four if I can manage.
ATTENTION ARCHIVE DIVERS! The Archives are Ready for your Approval
FINALLY! The idea that there were still comics in the archives with errors or glitches has been haunting me for a while and I finally finished my Archive-Run-Through! YAY! Now that doesn't mean that there aren't still errors in there, but if you spot anything now you can let me know and I'll fix it up directly.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
The errors at this point seemed to be restricted to bad cropping (where part of the panels from the next or previous strip show up cropped), or a Photoshop Layer Effect removal which would remove some text outlines or shadows.
It felt good to balance getting the archives done with keeping up with the story. I'm going to try it again for June this time focusing on THE NEXT SLUGGY BOOK(S)! Here's hoping for another "Mission Accomplished" announcement early July!
My mother died last week. There's part of me that wants to tell you about my mother. There’s part of me that wants to dismiss the whole thing, as I am, at heart, an introvert who wants to be left alone to grieve and who understands most of us will go through this sooner or later. The third part, the most demanding yet most unnecessary part (solely because of my messed up brain), is to let you know that this is the reason for me falling behind.
There will be less than 12 strips this month. Any other comics that arrive in April are only because I had scripts ready, and the art-part is a welcome distraction sometimes.
I’ve also decided there will be less than 12 strips in May. I’ve been determined to finish repairing the archives and get the next book ready to print, and actually had a bit of a lead on strips. But then we got that call and we rushed to be by her side. Now I’m even more determined to get that done even if it means falling further behind on strips. I’ll keep you all posted as best I can.
As private as I am, I do want to share a thing about my mom. She filled my childhood with science fiction and fantasy and creativity. She’s the reason I grew into the storyteller I am today, and that creativity carries through to her grandchildren. Thanks mom. We love you and we’ll miss you as fiercely as you loved us.
I spent just about all day yesterday and today scripting. So long I started getting a headache today and had to stop. It's not like I have writers block. I just have... let's call it "character overwhelment". There are so many players in this story with their own goals and agendas and relationships with the other characters in play. Giving each one full attention and following each one around linear events would make the story meander forever. I don't want that. I won't have that.
I actually had a script ready to go for Monday and the next few strips tightly scripted too, but it was one line in the strip that made me pause. I realized that one line fixed a character in a particular point and time that would require a bunch more strips to tell. But if I was clever I could tell that part of the story a better way. And for that I'd need to pin down where everybody was and would be, not just the 'major players' in what's occurring (and the major players may not be the ones you are currently thinking of).
So I said to myself "alright self, let's pin them down. Work them out. See the gaps, see what I missed" and wow was that a rabbit hole. I wasn't tying stings to thumbtacks in a wall of photos like Lemony Snicket in the "Look Away" opening to Netflix's Series of Unfortunate Events (a family favorite), but it was close. It involved a whiteboard, a ton of sticky notes, and four clipboards. And no, you can't see a photo of it, it only makes sense to me anywho. Crib notes for my brain. I digress...
It took all yesterday and today (Today being Tuesday 4/10/18) but I got it 90% done and ordered. Then I looked at the clock. 8pm. I still needed a tight script. One that would not screw up the 10% that still needed hammering out. I knew... KNEW... I had already failed in my mission of getting a strip up by Wednesday. Even if I hacked something together it wouldn't make it in the queue until after midnight and with the new system there ARE no late strips. A Strip after midnight is just NEXT midnight's strip.
I feel terrible. Like I've made a huge mistake by not posting SOMEthing. And a bigger mistake by not taking the time to get this next bit right.
I know for a fact that one thing I was looking forward to about the new system was to NOT have that midnight guilt-deadline on my back every night. It's been liberating shaking that daily midnight stress off. It's chilling to find it back.
Despite how I feel I've chosen my path. To write this "right." The next comic you see here, which may be tomorrow, maybe the next day, it won't blow you away with amazement. BUT the comics that follow should paint the clear and building story it needs to be.
Thanks for having more patience with me than I have with myself. And thanks specifically to you Defenders 20+ for giving me the chance to write better and relax more. I'll get the hang of living outside the cage sooner or later!
3/12: HEY EVERYBODY! WE'RE BACK after the storms and Power-outage! And I'm getting on top of that pile! Here's where we are at:
THE STORE: All outstanding orders are out (or being sent out today)! I've also closed the store for a couple of weeks. Getting some elbow room for March Comics, the Archives Project, and the Book 18 Project.
PAWNZ and BOOKMARKS: I'm finally ahead on this Defenders reward front!
The Kusari-Bun-Bun Pawnz and "Kusari revealed?" Bookmarks Distributed! (That means Digital versions distributed to Defenders 20+ levels 2 and higher. The physical rewards for levels 3 or higher are off to the printers. See the Defenders 20+ Membership Page for details.)
Reminder about these monthly exclusives: The only way to get them is to be a Defender 20+ member level 2 or higher during the month. Actually as long as you are pledging by the 12th of a given month, you're in! For example the only way to get the First Appearance Kusari Pawnz and "KUSARI vs. Oasis" Bookmark would be to be a Defender 20+ level 2 or higher by the 12th of March. That's today when I'm posting this. So for this month only, and because I'm so late on the reveal of the March exclusives, I'm extending the deadline and you can get the March Defenders Exclusives if you pledge at level 2 or higher by Saturday this week (the 17th) and stay pledged until the end of the month.
I am SO intending on doing a matching set to this, Oasis in the black outfit from the restaurant where Oasis and Kusari first squared off. But, alas, there are no Oasis pawnz yet. Or is there?... Check out April's reward!!! FIRST OASIS MODEL!
Another reminder: Level 2 or higher gets all the Pawnz in the store unlocked for free! Unlike the exclusive monthly rewards, you get ALL the store Pawnz ANYTIME you pledge at level 2 or higher. There's not much in the store right now. But there are plans for many more and here's whats arriving in the store in April:
And lastly on the Pawnz and Bookmarks front... in preparation for the upcoming Book 18... here's one of theee stars of that thar book I rekin:
BOOKMARK GOOF: While we're talking about Pawnz and Bookmarks, there's an error I made in the previous news story of my own making. I done-goofed and suggested that everyone should have a Zoë bookmark. Actually no one did! Here's what happened. As a side project for this new way of doing things I get to design cool pawnz and bookmarks each month. They are always done as a set. Pawnz with a corresponding Bookmark. Every time. When we released the Classic Pawnz set to everyone who is logged in, I had created corresponding bookmarks for each classic main character. This many months down the road I assumed we gave those out with the Pawnz because in my mind now they're a hand-in-hand set.
This was NEVER the case. The multiple-bookmarks feature is a Defenders reward and an extremely cool one. These digital Bookmarks can be used to keep track of where you left off with various archive crawls or just a neat way to mark favorites or where you left off. I was surprised to find out that those classic bookmarks were never distributed in any way. So here's what I have decided. All 6 classic Bookmarks have now been unlocked and distributed to all Defenders 20+ Level 2 and higher. And as an apology for my mistake, the Zoë Bookmark has been gifted to all Defenders old and new.
Defenders, go play with the Bookmarks if you have some and haven't tried them out. I think they are among the niftiest of things!
SOME FIXES: RSS news being not-up-to-date? Fixed. New Comic Notification tick-box? Fixed. We're looking into other things as well. And by "we" I mean the dev team because I'm far too busy forgetting who gets which bookmark!
BOOK 18: One thing the storm did was push the book schedule back half a month. But it's still coming together. Its going to be big, like Book 17 was. And it's going to cover everything leading up to Book 19 bROKEN (wow, that is going to be some book)! And a giant Book 20 (4U City) by Christmas is a probability! I'll be caught up soon at this rate!
THE ARCHIVES: There are still many areas of the archives where comics display the top bits of panels from the previous comic. I really thought I would have cleaned them up by now. The plan was for me to fix everything and then have you guys look for and spot the ones I missed. But I just dropped the ball and started juggling chainsaws instead. When I get on top of the March Comics pile I'll have to make the call on whether to focus on Archives or Book 18. They are both important to me, but I almost feel like the archives have been waiting too long and need pole-position.
That was a lot of info! I hope it covers everything! Now I'm off to do all the comics I can! Thanks again!
Because the Zoë pawn is wearing the same outfit in the image for the standard Zoë Bookmark, I went with a storyline-focused bookmark and chose a personal favorite, Safehouse (The Nom).
I'm trying to plan out the year with Pawnz so I don't get caught falling a month behind like I did for the December Pawnz. I'm thinking the Pawnz for February will be something like... well here's a clue!
This will require a new 3D model and a new fold for the printed version but I'm feeling pretty confident I'll be able to get it done and start showing you upcoming months in advance from here on out! What could go wrong?
1/22/18 NEWS: I’m behind on everything! In my defense the magnitude of the comics recently has been draining. And there’s so much blood!
Here’s where we’re at on various subjects:
On emails: I’ve had a lot of emails on my plate that I’ve yet to respond to! I’ll try and tackle that in the next 48 hours!
On The Store: The store was supposed to open early January but I’m bumping it to the first Monday in February. I need to get out from under certain piles before opening that demanding pile back up!
On The Pawnz of the Month/Bookmarks of the Month: I’m late sending out December’s pawnz and bookmarks! They were supposed to go out around January 12th and here it is the 22nd. It was also supposed to be a Vampire-Hunter Riff Pawnz but I ran out of time to design it. In fact what I really need is a Pawnz plan for the year and I’m working on it now. Cool new models with new skins, things you’ve never seen! It will be nifty! But yeah, December’s pawnz will be another week or so. You will get what I owe you. I may go past deadline but I will get it done!
Commenting on Recent Comic Events: OK I’ll avoid spoilery language but a lot has been revealed in the strip at the end of 2017 and in 2018! Things that go back almost two decades! I had yet to comment on that but I managed to put together a new Defenders Blog Post on it like just now! For all you non-defenders I’ll just say THANKS SO MUCH! The reactions to the reveals have been almost all positive and uplifting and it’s gratifying for me to hear all my hard work is appreciated! Sorry for taking 20 years to to answer some of those big questions (which, yes, may have led to bigger questions)!
On Art Auctions: It’s been a while but I hope to have art auctions up and running in a week or two! A lot of nice and ‘sluggy-historic’art lately! Keep an eye out for it
On that important thing I’ve totally forgotten: I’m sorry I totally forgot about that I’ll get back on that when I remember!
I’ll wrap up by saying there’s a new Amazon Go Store where you just grab what you want and you get scanned and charged as you walk out. Hmmmmm….
Hey all! As you probably remember I spent most of the last year looking at having the strip come to an end. But it’s all turned around! In a way hard to articulate, I’ve been rejuvenated, and that is an unexpected blessing.
Now, for this to work, for Sluggy Freelance to continue, this thing we started has to grow. If you could find it in your heart to support this strip... maybe it brings you enough twisted plots, or occasional laughs, or joy in any form… I’m asking you to be a Defender 20+. At level 1, that’s 50 cents a strip. 12 max strips. $6 at most a month. The price of a fast food lunch will cover an entire month of keeping Sluggy Freelance strips coming!
So I’m gonna come right out here and ask that you be my Secret Santa and become a 50-cent Defender 20+. Because that’s all I want for Christmas. Because for THIS Christmas, being able to keep doing Sluggy is a joyful surprise I get to unwrap every day!
IF YOU ARE ALREADY A DEFENDER YOU ARE THE BEST! Thanks!!!