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Johnny Saturn

In one form or another, Johnny Saturn has been running on the web for about four years. Compared to some well known webcomics, such as PVP, or any of the other long running strips, that’s not all that long. Still, four years is four years, so I’m proud of the ongoing success the strip has enjoyed. 

Johnny Saturn is in a new stage of life. We never stopped producing episodes, but we did change how and where and when they are distributed. Originally, we ran the strip with a full page once a week. It began on Graphic Smash, moved to Komikwerks, then back to Graphic Smash, and then to Comic Genesis and Drunk Duck as well. For a while, that scattershot approach worked well, and we built a readership of several thousand per day, and our combined numbers looked quite good. (I do not know what the hits versus unique visitors was, because none of these systems reported that data. Nowadays I know better.)

After reading “How to Make Webcomics” by the Half-Pixel cartoonists, I decided on a different approach for Johnny Saturn. I would gather all our content onto one site, along with a store and daily blogs, and we would then proceed to build a single audience and more clearly focus all our energies on one site. We still run Johnny Saturn on Graphic Smash, but we run the strips a day later there, one Tuesday and Thursday, not Monday and Wednesday.

These days, I divide each page of Johnny Saturn into halves, running the first part of the page on Monday, and second part on Wednesday. My original thinking here was that offering less content more often was better than running more content less often, and to a degree I believe this is true. In reality, however, it worked out differently, and it came to mean more content more often. Each web episode needed to include some entertainment value and had to somehow advance the plot, so it resulted in more panels and more text per page. It’s more work for me and Benita, my co-writer, but ultimately worth it, I believe.

Johnny Saturn always has been and underdog. In a webcomic world that favors gag-a-day strips, and often caters to college students and young professionals, Johnny Saturn has defiantly featured superheroes, middle-aged or elderly characters, and close looks at villains and deeply troubled heroes. There hasn’t been any nudity, and we haven’t sexualized or characters or sensationalized gay characters. Drug addiction? Clinical depression? Grief? Suicide? We’ve dealt with all of them, but in a straight forward manner, but we’ve left the melodrama at the door. 

Nowadays, there is a political theme underlying the strip. The beauty of comics is that we are able to tackle the key issues of today in an allegorical fashion, personifying political forces in fictional garb. The Oppression Wave? The Star Cabal? You can read these as pure entertainment, or you can go deeper. Either way, I invite you to keep reading Johnny Saturn.