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BEN: That’s what they all say.
LAMONT: You little bastard!
BEN: Careful, Monty. Up to now, we’ve been even.

It’s a new year, space cadets, and I’m determined to make it a year where Westward keeps flying. Unfortunately, I’ve had to pack in quite a bit of freelance work on top of my day job to make ends meet in January and February, so that will take time that otherwise would be used for Westward.

So what’s the plan for 2018? Try to boost support on Patreon! Regular monthly support gives me the ability to be more discriminating with freelance work and allows me to spend more time telling the story you’re enjoying now.

Starting with Westward #1100, I’m going to be trying out a new format. There’s a bit of risk involved, since the strip will look a little different than what you’re used to, but my hope is that the format will be more shareable, easier to view on mobile devices, and possibly it will also facilitate more frequent updates. Patrons will of course get a sneak peek of the changes in advance.

Be seeing you!

  • Homunclus

    Spratt getting punched in the face and a new format for Westward is announced. Today is a good day

    • I would be interested in demographically/psychologically profiling readers based on what name they use for Ben.
      Ed Spratt?
      Ben Schultz?
      Ben Grafeneck?
      First Scientist?
      Bill Gates?

      • bayareajohn

        Edjamin, the original portmanteau of his introduction name and his “real” name. Which will do until we find out who/what he really is.

        • So you suspect that there are even more layers to our bespectacled blond? My friend, you know me too well.

          • Walex B

            You have constrained your story a little bit, but not much: on one hand Fred would never tell anyone they are a real Grafeneck unless they were really Grafenecks; on the other the mystery of his mother and the claim by Anka leave the field open. He looks like a Grafeneck but he is not as lanky as a typical Grafeneck. Possibilities, possibilities :-).

          • The mystery of his mother…

            Have you ever noticed that Ben and Rosemary have a more than passing resemblance?

          • Walex B

            Yes, that’s why I pointed out that he is not as lanky and “Possibilities, possibilities” :-).
            But while you are the author keep some degrees of freedom in the story to yourself, so you can change your mind later without too much retconning. But please balance this against giving your story some understandability. Given the nested and parallel conspiracies in your story it is a bit difficult to follow. The list of links/crucial moments/people mentioned in the “About” page should help new readers.
            I follow some other first-rate webcomics, like “The Woken”, “Stonebreaker”, “Blood spattered socks”, and I have written for them notes, because especially with time travel things can become very tangled.

            Any, for amusement, suppose that right now you have this little picture in mind, which I had almost posted: Ben’s mother is Rosemary, which means that Francis is now his stepfather, most likely Alice and Rex are his stepsiblings, and Phobos was his stepmartian :-).

          • Your warning is well-received! Westward’s complexity seems to be a point of attraction for loyal readers, but a line has to be drawn somewhere, especially since it can become a barrier to entry for new readers. Keeping the balance is a challenge that I don’t always succeed at.

          • bayareajohn

            I remember when you waved away such observations as a result of your shortcomings in artistry. Didn’t believe it then or now.

        • Walex B

          I guess you refer to the panel where Anka tells him that he does not know who he is (916) and the panel where he is asks about his mother and is given an evasive answer (943). Very mysterious…

          • Oh! You mean #914 and #941. “Tomorrow is your mother.” I’ll give myself a retrospective pat on the back for that one.

      • Walex B

        I think of him as “Ben Grafeneck”, because Fred told him he was a true Grafeneck…

        • Fun fact: There are actually a handful of unpublished strips that take place between Episodes 6 and 7; they were casualties of my attempts to figure out the future of the comic during that period. One of them drops a pretty big bomb about Ben’s origins.

          • Walex B

            BTW, on a side note, as far as I can remember nobody else on “Westward” has been told that the Schultzes are actually the Grafenecks, so they still think of him as “Ben Schultz”. Anka and Deimos almost certainly know though.
            That’s one of the pretty huge secrets that Francis and Amila don’t know yet. They now know thanks to Milo and Rosemary that Epiphany was caused by Viktor, but I guess that they still have no idea that Ben is his great-grandson (or perhaps a clone of Viktor like maybe Abraham and Frederick).

            If Ben goes off the rails later he will have plenty of excuses, but one of the best is panel 913 where it may seem that the Escherspace entity can reach to Ben even outside Escherspace, on Mars, and then Anka appears in his bathroom. Anybody less Ben would be totally weirded out by either, never mind both happening. But then he has gazed into Escherspace…

          • Actually, Francis does know that Ben is a Grafeneck, as revealed in #985. So does Rosemary, and there’s a good chance Amila does too, since she was in Mars’ interior with them.

            And yes, it’s apparent that traveling via Escherspace has the effect of linking a person to something that operates outside the normal bounds of time and space. This was even true for the crew; despite normalization, Escherspace allowed them to see Earth’s true multidimensional nature, which in turn kept them from being able to return there.

          • Walex B

            Ah yes, thanks, #985, and indeed Amila was there too probably or being inside the Mars machine probably knew anyhow. So it happened offpanel. BTW It is amusing that Ben says that Rosemary was not made to be smart — I guess Viktor was after the original goal of making people longer lived instead.

          • Smart people are too much trouble.