Looking back at last year, I have to say that many of the ideas I seem to espouse in my Year in Reviews tend to be much like a New Year’s Resolution: resolutions are made with every intention on keeping them… and then one by one they fall by the wayside. Fortunately, the biggest of my resolutions, maintaining a regular update schedule, was not one of those promises that I didn’t keep; while I did miss the occasional update now and again, 2011 was much more productive than the years before it. This isn’t to say I won’t be making more resolutions for 2012; it just means I intend on being more… conservative about them.
The thing I regret most is having failed to have posted another chapter of my original fiction “Stalking the Wolf” (of which I’ve only posted the prologue). Unfortunately, a combination of writer’s block and a lack of time has kept me from continuing the story; it took me months to hammer out one scene, and the next has proven equally ornery. The story isn’t dead, mind you, but I must admit some skepticism as to if I’ll be getting to it this year. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of 2010 and posting the story before I’ve a sufficient buffer in place to allow for regular updates (even if that schedule is monthly). I suspect when I do have enough of the story on hand to start posting again, I’ll repost the prologue as well (as I’m fairly certain my readership cycles through readers regularly).
This isn’t to say that I won’t be posting any fiction this year; to be honest, I’ve been working on another novel of mine, “The Trip;” several excerpts of that novel can actually be found on this site as I tried working through a bad case of writer’s block. Fortunately, that block recently broke and I’ve been able to start work rewriting a couple dozen scenes in the novel. When I have enough of the novel rewritten and if I can work out the details with a couple of friends who volunteered to help, I might be posting the novel as an audiocast. Obviously there are several obstacles I’d need to overcome, so I have to admit this idea is closer to wishful thinking than written in stone.
As is obvious at this point, I’ve discontinued the interviews. On paper it was a good idea. In practice I ran into several problems, from finding webcartoonists interested in being interviewed (that I’d previously reviewed) to finding time to edit the reviews and post them on my site. The written format was also problematic in that it was less organic; given that in many cases I’d receive the interview a day or two before posting it, I didn’t have time to e-mail follow-up questions. Several people rightfully suggested the questions were overused and uninteresting. For now I’m going to shelve it as a learning experience. While I’d like to set up a monthly interview podcast, I need to do further research into podcasts before I set any plans in stone.
The Tangents Archive Project remains on hold, due to a lack of time. I’ve considered just posting the original reviews in an HTML shell that would provide basic links; if I do this, the Archive Site would lack images (or rather broken images as the original HTML code would link to a URL on Panel2panel that doesn’t exist any longer). I’m not sure if there’s really any interest in the Archives; it’s two years of reviews from five years ago. Admittedly, it is also a sizeable number of reviews, back when I was very productive (and not working regularly), but given that some of the comics don’t exist any longer and a number of URLs have changed, it will be out-of-date.
Seeing that Tangents’ readership has been fairly stagnant, I’ve been considering adding Project Wonderful advertising. This would actually serve two purposes. First, I could use any advertising revenues to purchase advertising and attract new readers. Second, I continue to get people requesting reviews from me (for some odd reason I still can’t comprehend; I’m willing to bet Websnark still gets more web traffic than I do, and it hasn’t updated in a year); allowing Project Wonderful advertising would give cartoonists another venue to attracting readers from Tangents outside of sending me an e-mail that often is read at work while on break and then forgotten.
One other thing I’ve thought of doing that is tangentially related to the webcomic reviews is posting weekly webcomics news. The news updates would be garnered through a combination of e-mail submissions (of which I already receive several press releases due to the odd believe by some professionals that Tangents is a media venue) and anything I pick up from blog entries that a number of webcartoonists include on their site. This would fill the hole in my Friday schedule, and wouldn’t be anything fancy; the totality of my journalistic skills consist of two semesters of journalism taken at a two-year college two decades ago, writing news articles for that college’s newspaper, and the interviews I posted last year. I’m a critic, not a reporter.
Also, while I am always welcome to guest reviews, I’ve come to realize I can’t rely on them for when I’m on vacation in October. Last year’s series of one-paragraph write-ups on weekly webcomics worked quite nicely; amazingly enough I was able to write all seven reviews in three days. Though I think I’ll start work on the weekly suggested reading before the last second this time around.
The fundamental core of Tangents works, and will remain the same. While my reviews have become a bit more critical in tone (especially for those webcartoonists I feel are sitting on their laurels and not working to their full potential – Dan Shive, I am looking at you, though you’re not alone in this) I will continue to show respect for the effort the cartoonists put into their work, even if I do not always enjoy the comic they’ve written. The three tiers of reviews (Tangents, Secants, and Chords) will remain unchanged.
And that’s the Tangents: Year in Review. Naturally, not all of these plans will work out; life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. But it’s better to shoot for the moon than to hide your head in the dirt and never bother changing. Even if I miss, I still end up out in the stars. But no matter what actually comes to pass on Tangents, I’d like to thank you all for reading. Through the good, through the bad, and through it all, you make this place what it is.