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Starslip Crisis Turns Two

Starslip Crisis turned two years old last week, May 23. This is the strip that ran. It's a mid-storyline strip; it's more setup than punchline. I think Starslip has evolved beyond whatever I thought it was going to be in 2005. I thought I'd give myself a little sci-fi playground to have fun with the genre -- not to do parody, but play with the usual mechanics of how science fiction works. I guess that's why I gave it such an odd setting. I figured there were enough "ship explores unknown worlds" stories out there. What does a ship like the Enterprise do after all the wars have been won? And what if the war came back?

Starslip Crisis has evolved because I didn't see myself getting attached to the characters. There was a sadness in ending Checkerboard Nightmare, because I don't get to visit those guys anymore. Which is odd, because I feel like they're pretty shallow as far as characters go. But they had good hearts, and I understood them, and they spoke in my head when I gave them something to do, something to play with.


That's where we are now with this strip. It's grown out of that awkward "well, what next?" phase. I want to know what will happen when everything gets thrown at Vanderbeam. I want to know how everyone will deal with Cutter's secrets. But above all, I want the strip to entertain you.

I think it's pretty easy as a creator to end up seeing way more in your characters than the audience sees, especially within the confines of a gag strip, and then wind up telling stories with no jokes in them. Because the characters deserve some seriousness. Maybe that is true, but I know why you're here. I like where Starslip is headed, and I like having to walk a line between outright humor and something that will flavor the humorous stuff to come after it. I was scared to kill Jovia off, but it opened everything up! Vanderbeam had some tragedy in him, and that was good.

Let me say a few honest words about doing a webcomic in general. I haven't talked much about moving from Los Angeles to Dallas. I moved out to Texas because a lot of people believed in me, told me that if anyone had what it took to make a living at this, I could. And I knew that if I didn't give it another push before settling into a career as a city-employed sys admin, I'd regret it forever. So there's been a number of times where I'd miss some opportunity, or I'd blow a pitch, or I'd forget who my audience was (and could be), and I'd wonder: what am I doing this strip for?

This is a sci-fi strip about a museum. The main character uses words I barely know. The next time you see me at con, ask me what Starslip Crisis is about. I'll try to give you a general idea, but that's not as strong a sales pitch as "it's about two cats and a teddy bear having adventures." You read my strip and that pitch won't win you over -- imagine what someone who's never heard of it thinks. So I think "well, I need to do the strip with the two cats instead."

You know what? I want to do that strip. I want to do a strip about a recording studio. I have a strip on the back burner about preschool kids. But I'm reinvested in this strip, especially when I discover I can tell these stories, and that I do care about these characters as much as any others before.

Thanks for your readership and thanks for your support. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity, and you make it possible when you visit the store, post a strip somewhere, or tell a friend that Battlestar Galactica kinda sucks now and here's why. Because that's what Starslip Crisis is all about.