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ELIZABETH: All I want is one honest answer. Is this what it seems? Are we here because of you?
LAMONT: We’ve lost so much, love. Don’t you see I had to do something?
ELIZABETH: I know what I’ve lost. My home. My friends.
LAMONT: Believe me–I wish there had been another way.
ELIZABETH: This was a mistake.
ED SCHULTZ: Citizen, I–*yawn*–I told him exactly the same thing.

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  • Blissex

    After discovering “Westward” last year I am now very happy that out wonderful author is resuming his story-telling. it is a great story with a number of classic hardcore sci-fi tropes, and very originally and amusingly combined. Many thanks for the author.

    • Thank you, Blissex–that means a lot to me! Right now the publication pace seems to be stuck at one strip a week, which is really too slow for a complex story like Westward’s. I’m hoping to drum up enough support over time to get closer to how it used to be!

      • Blissex

        And I have done my bit with Patreon too. I am grateful that the web gives access to stories like yours and a few others I follow. I have been reading top-quality graphics novels for several decades and “Westward” has elements of greatness. I currently follow around 50-60 web comics and “Westward” looks to me at least in the same league as “Stand Still Stay Silent”, “Dresden Codak”, “The Woken”, “Mare Internum”, …
        I’ll be trying to promote it in posts and various league tables now that it is resumed.
        I am BTW not complaining about the 1/week frequency, your panels are way more work than the 3-part strips like “Dilbert” or “Schlock Mercenary”.

        • Wow, thanks again! Westward was envisioned (and for four years, successfully produced) as a daily strip. It’s something of a soap opera; I imagine it as the Dark Shadows of sci-fi Webcomics. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to place an emphasis on consistent fast-paced publication, even if it means the quality of art is secondary. I deeply regret that life changes have derailed that vision from time to time.

          I was already following webcomics when Scott McCloud published Reinventing Comics and blew my mind. When I started creating Westward ten years later, the number of webcomics out there was truly staggering. There are so many talented artists and storytellers! I have to admit that I’ve never had the time to actually follow any other webcomic consistently; it’s hard enough to find time to produce one!

          • Blissex

            «for four years, successfully produced) as a daily strip»

            That was a miracle! My observation is that there are two extremes in comics/cartoons: popular one-a-day 3-panel “gag” strips like “Dilbert” or “Schlock Mercenary”, which sometimes have linked strips as stories, and they can be produced and full-page “graphic novel” full-pages, and they usually are weekly or even monthly. Some like “The Woken” or “Cyberbunk” or “The Games” have “long pages” even. The authors of the “The Woken” wrote that it takes them around 40-60 hours per “long page”, and
            it shows.

            Some people whose patrons fund their work full time managed to produce 2-4 update per week of full pages, but for example “Stay Still Stay Silent” has relatively simpler pages, and some
            people just do black-and-and-white full pages as it takes less times. An interesting solution is used in “Namesake” and “Shattered starlight” which are black-and-white with a few patches of color highlight. But your graphics style benefits from colour.

            The current “Westward” seems to me a bit more elaborate than 3-panel strips that can be done daily, and of if you have other jobs or a life it is probably not sustainable.

            BTW in general the daily-update “gag” strips are those that make the most money in donations as they hold reader attentions most easily and work best on mobile phones (an exception seems to be “Dresden Codak” that is monthly and gets over $4,000 a month). On the other hand human culture would be lesser if some webcomic maniacs did not produce graphics novels just because they can’t stop themselves.

            BTW if you have a bit of time you can promote “Westward” by offering to do some guest strips to cover holidays for more famous webcomics authors, and the holidays are coming up. A lot of people click-through them.

          • Somehow I overlooked this reply! Your idea about doing guest strips is an interesting one. I never would have thought of it!

          • P.S. I appreciate your remark about the amount of work involved! Right now a strip takes me 3-4 hours (I used to do it in three hours, but I’m out of practice now). That’s because, as I mentioned in my recent “What I learned from Ravenlaw” post on Patreon, Westward has a production flow that compensates pretty well for my weaknesses as an artist.

            You’ve got me wondering, though—would Westward work as a single-panel comic? Hmm.

          • Blissex

            In an ideal world you would be able to get a placement on something like “Schlock Mercenary” or “Girl Genius” or “General Protection Fault”…

  • Matt [in Middletown]

    Shapeshifter, amd it’s yawning!
    The cubes are worse than thought!

    • Cast Magic Missile!

      • Matt [in Middletown]

        DM “Your magic projectile sizzles across the room, striking the shapeshifter in the midsection. ‘Hey, that tickles. Stop it.’ the shapeshifter replies. The gelatinous cubes quiver in gelatinous laughter.”

  • Folarx

    Well okay, if you put it like that, Liz seems to have genuine reasons to be upset with Lamont.

    • I honestly didn’t set out to make Westward a long exposition of Lamont’s trouble with women. But that, um, seems to be what’s happened. Hope you like it…?

      • bayareajohn

        It’s unfortunate that the resumption of publication coincided with this extended “days of our lives” melodrama segment.

        • Maybe! But if Westward is Star Trek meets Dark Shadows, I can live with it. I wouldn’t include the melodrama if I didn’t enjoy it!

          Besides, this is all a part of Lamont’s story arc being resolved over time. Our tragic newspaperman has torn his family apart twice—will fate give him a third try?

          • Blissex

            A lot of webcomics introduce “drama” into the story by having the characters gratuitously acting out, like entitled, capricious american tourists in a third-world resort.

            In the case of “Westward” the drama is “real”, because of the alternate realities and the threats, and most characters behave semi-reasonably, even if they have terrible secrets that they should share.

            BTW your story makes Viktor Grafenekt seem a totally-rational, humanity-loving madman, trying to free humanity from martian manipulation, while he started as a selfish character only interested in his own immortality.

            In the case of Lamont frankly you are not very much making it about his “trouble with women“: you have simply messed up his life completely with alternative timelines in which he gets tortured, disappeared, finds nazi bits, belongs to a secret society run by a martian in an underwater city, end up living into immense underground cities kilometers under the surface of Mars, sees the most bizarre entities in Escherspace, and remember all this fragmentarily.

            That he has trouble with his personal relationships is just a minor side effect of his getting dipped into the deep end of weirdness. That he fanatically tries to grab a delusion of normalcy by thinking he has a family seems pretty coherent with his story. But according to the logic of your narration so far the only constant in his life is not Elizabeth and the son, but Anka, who has been though the same terrible weirdness that he has been, also across multiple timelines. And Anka seems to be unattached and waiting for him.

          • Oh my goodness! You’re picking up on so many threads that I’m totally geeking out and trying to stop myself from spewing spoilers at you!

            I shall distract myself by snickering about how embarrassing it can be to unexpectedly find Nazi bits, and the lengths to which we subsequently go to cover them up.

          • bayareajohn

            Our hero presumes Elizabeth is the mother of Lazarus. I say it’s Anka.
            Anyone else remember that Escherspace moment with Anka face down on top of Lamont…

          • Oh boy—! Remember that it was Anka who reconnected Lamont with Elizabeth in the first place. Around that time, we see that Lamont seemed to remember knowing that Elizabeth was pregnant before he left for Tibet. But that memory, as with all his others, can be held in a certain amount of suspicion because Anka was responsible for brainwashing him to facilitate his escape from the Scientific Society.

          • Blissex

            «But if Westward is Star Trek meets Dark Shadows»

            Not familiar with “Dark Shadows” but Wikipedia describes it as a horror thingie. For me “Westward” is “Star Trek” meets “The Man in the High Castle” (and PK Dick in general), plus various bits of HG Wells, etc. etc.

          • All true! I enjoyed Man in the High Castle (the novella) and of course have always loved H.G. Wells—especially In the Days of the Comet. In regard to Westward’s melodramatic disposition, I used to joke that the comic is Star Trek meets Buffy. But I think that Dark Shadows is a slightly better comparison.

      • Folarx

        I like the connection-via-shadow-society thing very much! I am also looking forward to seeing more interactions between original crew and SciSo members.

  • Blissex

    BTW so far my favourite character is Ben Grafeneck, who is a wonderful combination of nerdy engineer and well meaning dude, despite being the descendant of a mad nazi scientist and “Man in the high castle” :-), even if perhaps a bit too prone to jump to conclusions and kill martian constructs.
    I also like Captain Carter for being “philosophical” about it all, and very improbably seducing test-tube nazi superwoman Rosemary. One of my favourite moments is strip 0612 where after Carter asks Rosemary, the crazy redhead he fancies, whether she has “any dark and harmful secrets” and she matter of factly says “I’m a nazi spy” and he starts laughing maniacally after realizing that she is totally serious.

    • Mine too, Blissex! In that relationship, I’d say it’s a little difficult to be sure who seduced whom.

  • TheGorram Batguy

    This comic is one of the most epic ones I’ve ever read. I look forward to its continuation, at whatever pace is sustainable for you, Mr. Toman. Don’t let yourself feel pressured by the masses – this is your baby and you should raise it how you see fit. We’ll enjoy watching just the same.

    • Thank you, Batguy! If I’m pressured by anything, it’s my desire to tell a story worthy of such remarkable readers.