Does it count as a spoiler if I tell you what I’m thinking?

I sat down to sketch out some notes for the next week of Schlock Mercenary (by “next week” I mean “the next week I need to draw,” not the next week you get to read) and realized two things:

1) the story appeared to be reaching one of the important arc-points I’d slowly been building to.
2) the next week of scripts to be written is for the last week in September.

In short, Schlocktoberfest 2007 seems nicely poised to take place exactly when it needs to, in spite of the fact that I wasn’t expecting this particular plot-point to be the one that fell on that most hallowed of months.

Hopefully everybody will look back at the current storyline, and think I’m some kind of a genius, the way I write these things so that everything falls into place. I’m here to tell you that I’m not a genius. I’m a hack who regularly prays for a miracle, and sometimes gets what he asks for.

On a related note: “Schlocktoberfest” is the most difficult piece of writing I do all year. Ordinarily I begin a book or an arc with an end-state in mind, and a few notions of how the characters will reach it. The “last page” of that book or arc is an indefinite thing, appearing only when I feel like I’m done. With “Schlocktoberfest,” however, the last page and the first page are 31 days apart (though I can fudge a little with the starting point), and whatever notions I may have about moving the story must be made to fit in that space.

It ain’t easy. I didn’t even TRY it in 2000. I screwed it up in 2003, and decided that the story I’d picked was too big for 31 days. In retrospect, I made the right decision – scary though dark-matter monsters are, they were too important to try to squeeze into a one-month arc.

In 2004 I did something new, and played a very ordinary story that ended darkly. In 2005 I had fun with a Really Big Fish (one of my favorites, though the first Schlocktoberfest is still the best IMO). In 2006 I had a great time using the whole month as a setup for a pun. But all of these were really difficult to write, and would probably have been better-written as stories if the 31-day constraint were lifted.

For 2007 I think I’ve got a great set-up, a solid place for the story to start and finish, and a fun concept. But I can’t deny that it’s going to be hard to do.

Back to work with me. These things don’t write themselves…

13 thoughts on “Does it count as a spoiler if I tell you what I’m thinking?”

  1. It’s pretty cool to be able to “hear” the writer-mind behind the comic strip, know what’s going on, and learn what goes into the things I like best. “Really Big Fish” was one of my favorites as well.

  2. I know this sounds odd, but my roommate talks up schlocktober something fierce. Stating that you hack and slash and change things up in a big way, something that after sitting down and reading your comic I don’t agree with. However I tend to like em for the self contained arc, some of the more recent arcs have been a bit too long for my liking, but that’s me.

    Bugger, i’m digressing off topic.

    One thing is the same, you tend to concentrate more story wise on Schlocktober, and while this sometimes may not go according to your plans it always seems to work out. It’s good to hear that your timing is close to what it needs to be, so I’m looking forward to it.

    And if there is anyone in webcomics that can handle hard writing, it’s you. Give it your best and enjoy it 😀

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s interesting to see.

    Good Luck


    I don’t know why, but every year I live in fear that you’re not going to do Schlocktoberfest. Probably because every year around July you try to say “man, it’s too hard, I’m just not going to do it this year.”

    And every year you do Schlocktoberfest, and it makes me so happy inside.


      Yeah? Well purt’ much every year you and I have had walkies, and you’ve talked me through the damn thing (or let me talk myself into it.)

      Where are my walkies now? Somebody pulled the chalaining wheels off of my bike when I wasn’t looking!


        I know it’s a pun, but my first instinct was to read “chalaining” as a profanym.

        The realization that I read it that way automatically was about as amusing to me as seeing “chalain” used as a stand-in for obscenity.

  4. I’ve been reading for a few years and I’ve noticed that a great deal of the plot of Schlock Mercenary consists of getting out of the jams they get themselves into every Schlocktoberfest.

    I’m wondering if at some point you’re going to plan to break the fourth wall and have a Schlocktoberfest where Kevyn (or someone unexpected, like Der Thris) realise that something really bad always happens on October. Then they deliberately try to hunker down and keep a low profile during the month of October in the hope that they’ll avoid catastrophe.

    Of course, it will fail completely in a hilarious fashion. Perhaps they all end up getting cabin fever and snipe at each other so much that the esprit du corps falls apart and there’s no choice but to disband Tagon’s Toughs. Then much of the rest of the year is spent in attempts to rebuild it from the ground up, rather like ‘The Blues Brothers’ except with more explosions.

  5. My personal favorite is the one with the bugs. The one where every”body” dies.
    I was feel sorry for the bugs, they’re just little girls.

    1. Aye, although the first one was probably a more significant milestone (“having a name and regular appearances won’t prevent you from dying”), and the Tagon one was probably more interesting in its wider effects.

      1. The first one wasn’t really “Schlocktoberfest.” I had already conceived the bugs storyline (the thought of Schlock as the creepy monster in someone else’s nightmare wasn’t much of a stretch for me, even in the beginning), but I wasn’t ready to do it. Killing the Doctor was going to happen anyway, and it was serendipity that it fell that close to Hallowe’en.

Comments are closed.