Hi there. This is Claypool editor Richard Howell stepping out from behind the “editorial we” to get into a new groove in quest of a new level of communication between our loyal fans and me. I’m beginning this composition on the first official day of Summer, 2010, quite a lag from the previous posting. Despite my best intentions, I’ve yet to be able to work the notion of regular updates into my agenda, and this forum has suffered as a result. I’m going to overcompensate here, and rattle on until you Claypool stalwarts will regret the moments at which you’d wished I’d done more postings on this site.
First, I’m going to explain what’s been behind a couple of the glitches that’ve bedeviled the website recently. First, there’s been a brief interruption in the new episodes of DEADBEATS ONLINE, resulting in four consecutive posting dates without any progress in the ongoing intrigue that is DEADBEATS. That was not the way it was intended to happen, but things didn’t work out quite the way I expected. After a full season of trying to pull ahead on the deadlines (rather successfully, too), I fell behind on scripting, then a few roadblocks prevented me from catching up in time (more on those later), by the time it had reached crisis-level status, and I scrambled to deliver the next round of desperately-late dialogue, our wondrous letterer/webmaster Thom Zahler wasn’t available to ride to the rescue, since Thom–who has many other clients and other commitments–was out of town on another assignment. Thus, four episodes of DEADBEATS ONLINE didn’t post on their original schedule. They’re safely accessible now, in the correct order, and with their originally-intended appearance dates attached. In the three-plus years that DEADBEATS ONLINE has been running, this is the first time that a breakdown in the creative process has resulted in new episodes not being posted on time, and I hope that it’s the last. As of now, the artwork’s in hand–inked and everything–up through #512 and the scripting’s done through the historic #500. This morning, I drew episode #537, with #538 on the board for tonight. I expect that things will continue to improve for the foreseeable future.
From time to time, odd glitches occur here on the site (I expect that that’s true of almost every website out there) and we’ll try to address them as we learn of them. Just recently, one of our correspondents informed us that one of our recent episodes (#478) appeared twice, once in its own slot and once edging out that day’s legitimate episode (#475). For the record, the real #478 is a confrontation between Kathryn and Evan Southland. #475 is a conversation between Nikolas the bartender and his boss, Langley Bowman. I’m hoping to get these posted in the correct order and with no deletions or double-postings ASAP. Everyone’s invited to backtrack and read the story in its complete integrity, in flawless order.
Along those same lines, that correspondent informed me that three additioinal episodes weren’t displaying themselves to him. I double-checked and I could access them with no problem, so I’m at a loss to explain this particular glitch. I’ve contacted Thom about it, and we’ll work to solve it.
For anyone else having any problems with any aspect of the site, you’re encouraged to E-mail me (at the “Contact Us” link). Actually, you’re encouraged to E-mail me at the “Contact Us” link at whatever time, for whatever reason. So far, that link has always worked.
Also requiring an explanation: It had come to the attention of Thom and me (separately) that our Message Board had become disabled. Once Thom turned his expertise to the problem, it became clear that the problem was very serious. The Message Board was beyond saving and Thom devoted no small effort to save the previous communications, but that proved impossible. So…we’re taking the only option we have, and that’s to build a whole new Message Board, from the proverbial ground up. We’re still testing its parameters (the first posting on the new Board was a piece of free-floating spam; now deleted), bit it should be operational, for any Claypool fans out there who’d like to comment on the ongoing DEADBEATS ONLINE. I’m not the company’s tech expert (any company that hired me for that position would be in deep, deep trouble), so I don’t have a solid answer for most of the questions you might be asking, but if you’ve been approved for posting on our previous Message Board, there’s a chance that you can still post without having to go through the approval process again. If that doesn’t pan out, simply re-apply and I’ll attend to it immediately. I’m as anxious to get the inter-reader communications going again as the next Writer/Artist/Editor.
For anyone who’d the additional impetus to keep reading, I’d like to announce that I’m very pleased with the current storyline and character arcs. I think, further, that the latest sequence is going to have some major payoffs. Not only will the cast be expanded and deepened, and the story peppered with the usual level of mood and menace, but also there’s some searingly emotional material coming up–very much along the lines of #71’s “No One Here Gets Out Alive!” and the Peyton Shue/Zombie Master story here online–so no DEADBEATS reader will want to miss a single episode.
End of hard sell. Now, on to more personal topics. April–as it’s long been reputed to be–turned out once again to be–the cruelest month. For anyone who knows me–or my work, probably–I don’t think that it’s any secret that I’m a major animal lover, and a cat person in particular. One fateful Thursday (the 9th), my youngest, the little Sam, went “off his feed” and–instead of coming a-running whenever I opened the food drawer, he began to hide in various places around the house. Not only are there many, many places to hide in my house, but Sam is all-black, complicating the situation considerably. I called my local vetrinarian’s office (Cats Exclusive) and described Sam’s symptoms. They advised me not to overreact; maybe Sam ate something that disagreed with him. I should keep on top of the situation and report back if things got worse. Things did get worse, and–wouldn’t you know it?–markedly so, once Cats Exclusive was closed for the weekend. By Sunday morning, not only was Sam refusing to eat, but he was also unable to stand. I wasn’t sure at all that Sam would make it. My friend Monica suggested that there had to be an emergency facility somewhere nearby. I placed Sam in a travel box, and away we went. Sam spent Sunday night in the emergency facility, getting monitored, tested, and hydrated. The next morning, we shuttled him off to Cats Exclusive for a week of being boarded, tested, hydrated, and force-fed. On Wednesday, the little Sam got his first grown-up MRI (He was so scared that he involuntarily walked a few steps.) None of the tests indicated anything in particular, and by Thursday, Sam had begun to rally. When I visited him at Cats Exclusive on Friday, he was eating on his own, wandering around the exam room, and complaining that he wanted to go home. On Saturday, he had his triumphant homecoming and has been perfectly healthy ever since. No verdict on what happened to him, but the leading theory is that he might have eaten a spider. Many days of stress, sleepless nights, and four-thousand-plus dollars later, the crisis has passed.
At the same period, though, during which I was sending every piece of positive energy I could muster off into the little Sam’s direction, something very sad and unnecessary occurred: My former editorial assistant killed himself. We hadn’t been in very close touch to quite some time, and I don’t think it’s my place to share any details anyway, but the news was a definite shock.
With that one-two punch knocking me off my pins, I’m a bit surprised taht I didn’t fall further behind than I did, but after playing catch-up in May and June, I’m pleased to announce that all the deadline threats seem to be a thing of the past. Not only that, but i think that the DEADBEATS ONLINE strip’s rhythms are finally exactly where I want them, and that great stories lie ahead. Keep reading and see if I’m not right.