The Art Of Letting Go

January 22, 2022

A digital drawing of the author sitting on a stool and braiding Jas' hair while Khudran sits behind them.

As I move towards the end of my long running webcomic, Star Trip, I find myself thinking back to the ways this story has evolved from its beginning to its end. Star Trip is a laboratory where I learned the craft of making a comic, as well as how to be flexible in my writing and art so that I could survive doing so.

a drawing of The author holding up two dresses as Khut points at the one they want to wear.”

One thing that working on Star Trip really taught me, along with writing and drawing, is editing and how in order to write a satisfying story I would need to learn how to let certain things go. Past ideas that I thought were great no longer meshed with the type of story I was telling. What more, I needed to take my energy levels into consideration. How long could I keep working on this story? Could I finish it before I got tired and/or lost interest? The last one was an especially big question that needed a big answer. I wouldn't be able to keep working on Star Trip for another 2 or 3 or even 4 years, which was my projected end time with the old script that included Act 3.

a drawing of the author rubbing the back of their head and breathing out a weary sigh.

Act 3 of Star Trip was interesting to say the least. It stretched out the story line into a whole new world with a whole new set of characters and new questions that needed answers. I thought Act 3 was very cool, and I was emotionally invested in it when I thought it up a year after I started the comic. But as I got older, read more books, and got to work more in comics editorial, I saw how clinging to that story line would be both unhealthy for me and the comic as a whole.

Webcomics are such a tricky and beautiful thing. They are the pulpiest of pulp media (in my opinion), allowing creators to play with ideas and storytelling structures that wouldn't normally fly in traditional print publishing. The pulp nature of webcomics is also what allows creators to construct thousand page long behemoths without any roadblocks, and this is supported by the fact that webcomics are digital publications.

But for me, revelling in this pulp with Star Trip, I couldn't help but bump up against what I was becoming as a creator. In creating a pulpy story that spanned almost 1000 pages and 10 years of my short life, I couldn't keep myself from changing. I'm no longer in my early twenties, dealing with student loans and joblessness, and living with my mom. I am not the same person who started Star Trip, but I became the kind of person who could finish it. Just like how I used Star Trip as a lab to practice my comic making skills, I now want to use it to learn how to finish one.

a drawing of the author daydreaming about Sol and Nyx from their future illustrated novel, Earthshine.

In changing I've also begun exploring the other kinds of pulp media I want to make. A long form story shared as a webcomic is fine as one path, but I now want to try others. I want to make multiple pulp stories. In particular I want to give illustrated novels a go as an alternative to this kind of long form storytelling, since it doesn't require the same level of labour a long form comic demands.

a drawing of two panels, the first depicting the author waving goodbye to Jas and Khut, the second depicting Khut flying off into space as their signature spaceship form.

I have finished shorter comics in the past, and I have even left a couple unfinished, but finishing a comic that has been a part of a third of my life definitely feels like something else. As of typing I have been approaching new ways of colouring the comic pages to make the process even faster and hopefully get back to consistent updates. I have been trying to let go of overthinking my colours and just run with it. In fact, finishing Star Trip requires that I approach it with the same mentality I did when I started it. Be free with it. Let go. Reach that ending no matter what, just like how I took my first step at the start.

a drawing of the author looking up at the sky with a tired, bittersweet, but also relieved smile on their face.

I had originally wanted to have this post up for the 20th of January, which is Star Trip's birthday, but I was caught up with other projects and day job work. The feeling of letting Star Trip down by not being on top of its birthday hit me like a brick to the chest, but then I took a moment to understand that this was simply the fact of my life now.

Star Trip isn't, nor has really been, the core aspect of my life. I have always had other projects going on, Star Trip just happened to be my longest one. Missing its birthday by a day or two isn't a problem, and regardless I will always remember that I posted my first page of this comic on that fateful day in winter. I will have so many other first pages for other stories posted on other days of the year.

Happy Birthday, Star Trip. Hopefully this will be your last.

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