Ten years! I have been making Alastere for 10 years. That's an average of about 60 pages a year. More than a page a week, due to the period I updated twice a week for a while. That's a lot, and I have a mishmash of thoughts about it.
I never would have expected ten years ago I'd still be doing this. Not for a lack of story to tell, just from... trouble with motivation, I suppose. But setting deadlines gets you to work on things, and having a weekly deadline helps to force work. It's been harder lately to focus enough to work, what with all that's happened lately, but I've had highs and lows throughout all ten years.
Ten years ago, I was partly through my master's degree. I started it, inspired by other web-centered comics (such as Homestuck), with the idea of making a comic that felt like you were playing a video game. Over winter break, I coded the engine that builds comics, displays them on a webpage, and made some test pages to experiment with it:
There's the first test page I made to test it. The way the engine works is reading and interpreting xml files - the "scripts" as I call them - and the first page was a test of just K'Sarian and Dia talking. Dunno why I always trended towards testing stuff with them.
I had a story that had changed over my life since middle school, manifested in various forms (a D&D game, an attempt at writing a novel, for two), and I hoped a webcomic would give me excuse to practice my art, and get the story out in a way people could enjoy it. I never expected to have MUSIC for the entire thing - that came later - and I never expected to be able to have worked on it for a full decade.
Long-form story comics I feel people find rewarding, and can get invested in. People love or hate characters that have a chance to grow on them, just like any other long-form media. But the internet shifted away from people going to a specific website and became increasingly about social media, and bite-sized strip-a-day joke format comics are much more easy to consume. Someone who wants to read Alastere needs to read 600 pages! It's like investing yourself in a book.
It's good, people tell me it's good, how they enjoyed reading it, how they got invested, but... it's so hard to get people to read. To get people to look at 10 years of your work and go "alright, I'll give you a chance, I guess".
Conventions were great chances to get the word out, back when they were safe to go to. Project Wonderful provided a fantastic way to reach out to people who would be willing TO read a long story (Homestuck, again, was a fantastic place to advertise). Now... now it's much more difficult. It doesn't lend itself to the quick snap to get someone's attention in ten seconds before it passes you by, never to come back. I had people at cons tell me they saw the banners ON homestuck.
Would I love it if I could support myself with Alastere? Yeah, I think so. Is it anywhere near there? No. Will it ever be? I don't know. I do so much in so many pies now, with vtubing and game development that I can't imagine dedicating myself wholly to one thing and hoping it'll be the bottled lightning. I think I'll always be that way. Even if something I did became wildly popular, I'd probably still do other things.
So I don't think I'll end Alastere anytime soon, there's more story to tell after all. I hope you all enjoy reading it, and enjoy feeling things about these characters. As long as people do, I'll keep making it.