Every year, towards the end of December, things tend to get a little nuts. With several holidays clustered together, many people are out trying to prepare for at least one of them and, even if that precludes buying gifts, there’s frequently extra meal planning to take care of. Which also makes things busier for folks working in retail. Plus, there are office parties to attend, charities asking for contributions of your time and money, and seemingly no end of family obligations. With everyone rushing around trying to care of their business — on top of keeping up with their regular work schedule — everything seems to take longer. Checkout lines are longer, there’s more traffic everywhere, and there’s always that little old lady who still doesn’t even take out her checkbook to pay for her groceries until the cashier has told her the total. And you thought you could just duck into the store quickly to pick up some egg nog on the way to the party!
It should come as no surprise, then, that all this craziness that occurs every year hits webcomickers just as much as everybody else. While it’s certainly possible to make a living doing webcomics, that’s not quite the norm yet, and most of these people are creating their comics in their spare time after and on top of their regular job. I’d be willing to bet, too, that the vast majority of them see the work they do on their comics as almost a second job.
Think about their set-up for a bit. Whether their comic is daily or weekly or whatever, they’re putting in the effort to keep that going in the first place, but also whatever marketing efforts they’re working on: Tweets, cross-postings, etc. This is the same work that other folks are doing enough of to earn a living; you’d better believe that it’s a second job to those who haven’t broke that earn-a-living threshold yet!
So it should come as no surprise that a lot of comics take a bit of a hiatus during the last few weeks of the year. As a reader, it’s hard not to cut them some slack, especially since they often include a note of apology and an explanation of everything that’s keeping them busy. But, what are you, the reader, supposed to do in the meantime? You’ve got some time carved out for reading your favorite webcomics, but if they’re not updating, what do you do with that time?
My answer is: read webcomics.
I hear you; you’re all saying, “Sean, what are you talking about? You just told us that a lot of webcomics don’t update this time of year. You want us to re-read the ones we already did?” No, of course not. My suggestion is to find new comics that you haven’t been reading and play catch-up!
I’ve generally got my eyes out for any webcomics that I haven’t heard of before, but the problem I often find myself in is one of getting up to speed on the current storyline. Gag-a-strips aren’t an issue, of course, but anything with an ongoing story can be difficult to jump into after it’s been up and running for more than a couple of months. But, with the additional time from the on-hiatus webcomics I normally read, I can go back through the archives of comics I’m not familiar with and get a feel for the characters and story.
Just before writing this column, in fact, I went through Rachel and Penny, which started back in February, and Greyfriars, which began in October. Flying Sparks is on my list to read up on as well, but that dates back to mid-2010, so it’ll take me a little longer to get through that. Hopefully, I’ll find enough time in my schedule to finish that before everybody else starts back up again!