A comic strip about drama, intrigue and weird adventure in time and space.

Howdy, Pioneers. After some careful thought, I’ve decided to suspend the Westward project indefinitely. Here’s why:

Over six months, Westward’s Patreon campaign succeeded in raising less than half of its baseline “sustainable” benchmark. Much of what it has raised is thanks to a couple especially generous patrons who are carrying too much of the burden. While statistics seem to indicate that readership is as high as it ever was, it has remained flat over the past six months. Additionally, reader interaction is minimal, suggesting that the story isn’t particularly engaging. Philosophically, I’m opposed to propping up failing systems, regardless of how much effort has gone into creating them. Westward as it currently exists has failed, so it’s time to try something new.

Here are some answers to other questions you may have:

  • What about Westward’s Patrons?

    As of May 26, all existing patronage has been cancelled. I would like to humbly thank everyone who donated toward the vision of Westward and kept it going for six more months.

  • Will Westward ever resume production?

    Anything’s possible. If popular demand suggests that a re-relaunch is viable, or if I get a new and irresistible idea for revisiting it, Westward may indeed continue someday.

  • Will Westward still be readable?

    Yes, for the foreseeable future, Westward’s archive will still be available.

  • What are you doing next?

    I’ll be devoting my creative energy to exploring and developing new projects. Because having a regular creative outlet is hugely important for me, the end goal will almost certainly be a new, ongoing narrative. My Patreon account will remain active; there you’ll be able to watch, influence and support the development of future projects. My current goal is to have decided on my next long-term project by January 2016. In the meantime, I’ll be posting sketches, concepts, outlines and other creative tidbits as I explore the possibilities.

To everyone who has supported Westward, I am deeply and truly grateful. I hope you’ll continue to be involved in what comes next!


  • http://epicureanchurch.org.uk/ Widmerpool

    I’m sad about the loss of Westward. I sympathise, and you’ve made the appropriate decision in context, but I’ll still miss it.
    Anyway, thanks for the ride, it’s been emotional. Don’t be a stranger, now!

  • Folarx

    Nooooooo! Aw, man. I understand your motives, and I imagine that decision did not come easily, and we all will have to accept it. But Westward will be missed. And for what it’s worth, I enjoyed Episode 7 immensely.
    So will you continue posting on Patreon?

    • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

      I will, Felix! I have many stories buzzing around in my head; I’ll be using Patreon as a sketchbook and sounding board as I try to determine which one is most viable as my next long-term project. If anything, you’ll be seeing more of me.

  • bayareajohn

    If this is really it, please consider writing a short synopsis of how the major story lines were to go… I’d like at least a little closure…

    • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

      You’re right, John—that would be fair. While certain details are still open-ended, there is indeed a large arc that was headed in a particular direction. I’ll do my best to post an overview on Patreon (which is sort of my catch-all blog for now). In the meantime, do you have any specific questions?

      • bayareajohn

        No, well yes, everything, but no.
        I’ll accept what you decide to share. That’s fair too.

        • bayareajohn

          I read your notes on your PATREON page, thanks for that.
          I am left with a few specific questions… about who left the machines inside the planets, about what the smoketopi were so pissed about, and just what was up with Rosemary. And what about Santana? Not to mention how the multiple dimensions play into the plot, beyond providing convenient commentary…

          And I can understand if you don’t feel up to sharing… sort of like doing a eulogy.

          • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

            Here are some hints to give you an idea where I was going with a few of these ideas:

            The most helpful clue is to think of Earth as very, very old. The machines were probably left inside Earth by humans before it was abandoned in favor of what we called Mars. Martian society then advanced, declined, and fell much as it had on Earth eons before. Long before its decline, however, Alice (having traveled billions of years into the past) appeared and drew their attention to Earth, which had long been a wasteland. Her presence on the lifeless Earth set a few things in motion: First, it activated ancient machines or computers which then began to run simulations, fabricating overlapping realities based on fragments of historical data in search to the answer of some lost question or mandate. Second, she freed incorporeal entities from the innermost regions of Earth, her unique nature acting as a sort of resonant key that afforded them a way of escape through her. This began a conflict between these beings and the Martians; the Martians prevailed, but the weapon they used stripped the atmosphere from their planet and drove them underground themselves.

            As Martian society adapted to new challenges, hundreds of simulations were being run concurrently on Earth by the ancient machines. Eventually, Mars became curious and devised a method of injecting themselves into the simulations, initially as observers, but ultimately as conquerors. The temptation to meddle was too great for some of the more ambitious Martians who harbored bitterness at their race’s crippled state—and besides, the human girl that rested in stasis deep in the womb of Mars carried with her a legend that she and the Martians were branches of the same race. Over time, the Martians in the simulation became indistiguishible from the humans and passed into legend. The simulations continued, history unfolded in hundreds of separate paths, and Earth got even older.

          • bayareajohn

            Wow. Thanks.
            That leads me to ask who Deimos, the Martian First Scientist was “generated” by, assuming a similar means as Phobos?
            Grafeneck himself?

          • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

            There was still some open-endedness to Deimos’ origin. Most likely, he was an actual old-guard Martian stirred out of hibernation inside the Earth by the Epiphany event. Unlike Phobos, who was birthed from some kind of collaboration between Human and Martian traits, Deimos is 100% old-school Martian. Therefore, there would be a certain amount of irony in the fact that Grafeneck’s escape from Earth subjected it once again to the rule of the race whos’ influence, in his mind, had tainted it.

  • Homunclus

    Sucks man. I really enjoyed your stuff. Hope your future endeavors go better :)

  • TheGorram Batguy

    Mr. Toman,

    Thank you for sharing Westward with us.
    I’m sure there are many others who, like myself, would gladly have contributed financially to your wonderous project if only our resources were more abundant.
    If Westward did not meet your hoped-for financial goals, then conider it a business “failure” if you must, but don’t lose sight of the fact that it has been a great artistic success.

    • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

      Thank you, Batguy! I hope you understand that the financial goals for Westward were in place so that I could justify, in some small way, devoting time to the project at the expense of freelance work. It wasn’t a scheme for getting rich. I’ll be continuing to use Patreon (although I’ve cancelled all previous support for fairness) in hopes that it will afford me more time to develop what comes next. But it’s much more about the support than the actual money. A patron who pitches in a dollar a month means the world to me because I know that they appreciate what I’m creating, and that’s what matters. :)

      • TheGorram Batguy

        Don’t worry, I understand well. I’m no artist myself, but I comprehend that each one of your strips takes hours to produce. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we all need to eat. It’s only natural that if you have to “steal” time from yourself to produce art at all, it’s a lot easier to do it if you can materially compensate for that time. I only wish doing so were easier for you and other artists.

        • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

          Me too! Where is Edward Bellamy when you need him?

  • sevenfivel

    I wouldn’t say that Westward isn’t engaging, just that it primarily appeals to a small niche audience, which wasn’t enough to get it rolling, I guess.

    • http://ministerofpropaganda.com Elliot Toman

      Niche is by no means a death-knell in the world of modern media. Part of Westward’s problem, I think, is that it asked a lot from the reader in certain ways. There are some aspects to that I’ll try to change in my next project…and some I most definitely won’t.

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