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Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles!

You guys, gals, and people of all walks of life,

I have a super exciting announcement to make! With the help of my partner, I’ve finally been able to create a home of its own for Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles! This is going to be a long post, so strap in!

TLDR Version: I want to keep Dark Horse free, but also want to make money so I can exist. The new site, here, will help with that through ad revenue. My Youtube Channel, will also help. Go check them out, and support me using no cash directly in this way. If you choose to support me cause you like what you see, which is in no way mandatory, check out my Patreon here! Single Donation options will be coming soon…when I have a chance to set that up.

 

The Long and Winding Road Version:

 

Dark Horse is the first of the longer, at least four installment Crystal Lotus Chronicles series. For years (no, seriously, YEARS) I’ve been trying to find a way to get this series its own, professional looking webpage. That journey started here on WordPress. I had a couple people reading Dark Horse here, as a terribly sized image set in the middle of a page, like so:

Yon-Koma! I just learned this term last week XD Always new what these were from Sailor Moon and Wish, but never knew fans did them, too!

First Previous Next Last

(Ya’ll remember that crap?)

But…I didn’t think that was really…fair to readers (gah, or myself. Uploading pages like that, adding the navigation buttons, and updating the “latest” on every page…every week…was TERRIBLE. Not even joking, people. It sucked. I was soooooo unprofessional, and so naive about everything needed to get this going right. Not like I’m all super professional now, but…you know–I’m better than I was ten years ago!

So that lead me to searching for an idiot proof site to upload my comic. I had tried ComicPress, but people, I can’t program. I can do a bit of copy paste of some HTML, maybe change the color of something here and there (barely,) but I was in no way equipped to figure out ComicPress, which soon was outdated anyway (I did get back to that…which I’ll back to in a few paragraphs.)

I had some choices to make, since there was Smack Jeeves, Duck, Taptastic (now Tapas,) and a bunch of others. Can I just say…I am so glad I ended up checking out Comic Fury. The dude who owns the site is just a peach: he’s funny, he gives a shit about his site (not that the others don’t,) he chimes in on the site and interacts with community, and it’s free! Seriously, once I get some more income coming in, I plan to support the site on Patreon: they’re a great community.

I have to say, I love hosting Dark Horse on Comic Fury. This site taught me so much about uploading comics, figuring out a schedule, and interacting with a community (I’m still not so good at that…I miss Manga Tutorials for that: I made some friends over there–one whom I am still friends with on Facebook.) So much growth from one site. I eventually was able to expand out to Tapas, then finally Smack Jeeves.

As much as I love these sites, though, I want to make sure The Crystal Lotus Chronicles have their own official website. I do no plan to stop updating on my mirror sites: to do so, at least I feel at this point in time, would be a slight to my readers on those websites, as well as the community I have been a part of since…oh I dunno…at least 2014 on Comic Fury (the others I just recently joined, but I am loving the interaction I have with my fans on Tapas, and I like that I have some silent readers on Smack Jeeves: you don’t have to be talkative, so long as you’re enjoying the story. :D) With that said, you can expect Comic Fury, Tapas, and Smack Jeeves to all update on their usual schedule.

But! I need to start monetizing my comic, if I want to make this my career. However, it’s against my personal belief system to charge people out right for this webcomic.

One, no one would probably buy it (although I’ve had some wonderful people in the past buy copies of the OLD Act 1 of Dark Horse. I feel like I let them down with the art, but they were so amazing, they saw what it looked like, and bought it anyway. Forever grateful to those awesome people who believed in me!)

Two, having suffered economically myself (not as bad as many others; I’m not so arrogant as to think that,) I know what it’s like to have no means of purchasing art and entertainment. For some time when I lived up in DeKalb, my friend and I couldn’t afford even Internet. I had to update Dark Horse from the local library, which was seriously one block away. I was so thankful for that library (gah, Andrew Carnegie, I know you had a lot of guilt from that one fire, but man, I gotta thank you for the free libraries!!) In the winter, we kept our apartment very cold, and in the summer-the Chicagoland, corn and bean field sweltering, stifling humid Illinois summer-we had no air conditioner. We spent so much time at the library (well, when I wasn’t at work XD.)

While I’ve always had an affinity to free entertainment and supporting the artists directly (like going to small bars and catching local bands, donating at art shows, buying from small, local vendors, supporting local independent radio stations,) a few years ago, after seeing how many artists charge to unlock their comics–which is fine, it’s their right and I don’t blame them for it–I recall being frustrated that I’d start a story…only to have a newly uploaded chapter suddenly be locked. I just don’t have the money for it. When you can only spend about $25-$35 per week on groceries, unfortunately entertainment is one of the first things to get cut from the budget.

And I got to thinking how much I appreciated my library. How many people there were only able to access Internet, read books, check out films, music–only because of the library (yeah, Youtube is a thing, but some people believe it or not don’t have Internet.) And my partner, who’s very anti-censorship, and a big fan of fair-use, public domain use, etc…he got me thinking before I even joined Comic Fury, back when we were just good friends: why not just keep it free? He stared this video with me not too long ago:

 

 

As a huge Neil Gaiman fan, I was dead jealous to find she’s married to him. But…then I thought “yeah, that’s fitting. I’m okay with this.” As though, my opinion on other people’s happiness mattered XD. But you get it. More than that…I started listening to her music. And I really found I liked it, and grew an admiration for her art and some of the stories she shared in this video.

Why do I bring this up? Why babble about it? Well, it all comes back to wanting do comics for a living, but not wanting to deprive working classes and even middle classes of free entertainment.  I remember what it was like to have…well, I won’t talk about some of the issues I used to have, but I will say in a small way I experienced what many go through everyday, and may never be able to dig their way out of. But…art…it connects us all. It’s our culture, be it pop culture or High Art. It makes us think. It makes us feel. It make us understand. And if there’s one thing that shouldn’t be deprived from people, it’s the enjoyment of the arts.

I know, Dark Horse will never be some great cultural work that brings joy to millions and makes statements that inspire great deeds by man. But…if it can bring a bit of joy to someone without any out of pocket cost, I want to provide that service (I’ve always…worked in the service industry: I think I just like to please people. My first full time job was a waitress. My second job was with the National Park Service, and I was a “cleaning technician”/janitor, as well as secretary. I find fulfillment when I can do something that falls inline with what I find valuable. We all do.)

So it’s with all this in mind that I’ve been striving very hard to find other means of both doing the thing I love, and trying to keep it free. I have opened mirror sites to spread my comic around. I have also started a YouTube Channel, which I plan to monetize once I get enough money to buy some licenses and donate some money to the sites I got some music from (one site doesn’t require purchase, but I want to pay it forward, so to speak.)

That’s where this new, more professional website for Dark Horse and The Crystal Lotus Chronicles comes into play. I know ads are annoying. I…do not wish to express my feeling about advertisements…but those of you interested can slide on over to this link to get a satirical idea of my opinions: Infinite Jest. However, that said, I have never personally been bothered by ads on the side or bottom of websites. They are there, they can be a touch distracting, but in the end, they don’t take away from my time. My Youtube channel I’m sure will be a bit annoying with them…but as for the comic, which is my main focus, I figure, a little advertising won’t hurt.

I know this is a long blog, more like a “dear diary” entry. But…I just felt like sharing this information with anyone interested in why I would bother creating a whole other site-which believe me, has not been easy to edit and make the way I want it to look.

And probably the most important part of this blog: I want to thank anyone who invests time in reading any of my comic, reading my blog, or visiting any other social media site I update.

Time is the one thing that can never be paid back.

It’s why I feel creating this comic, I don’t want to charge money unless there’s some kind of material or electronic exchange (the e-books take time to make and change pages to fit, number, all all that, so charging for something of this nature, which is just a .pdf someone is buying to help support me when the comic is free, I think is a fair trade.) A piece of art I create will require materials. A hard copy of the manga will incur production costs. The webcomic…I pour my heart and soul and time into it, and in return, I want to share it with people who are taking their valuable time to read what I’ve created. If I didn’t have to eat, that’d be payment enough for me. But since I do have to eat, I think that…having a free manga with some ads on it is a good compromise.

I want to close on a begging note. Well, not so much begging, but a posty note to let you know it’s an option, and I appreciate any support I garner.

As I mentioned in the TLDR part, just as I have felt the urge to support artists I love, such as the with the some of the artists and institutions I love (Flipside and KDHX, not on a regular basis, but as I get spare cash) I know there are people who are willing to part with their hard earned pay to support the things they appreciate. So, I’m not about to miss out on that:

Okay, this is obviously supposed to be light-hearted. But for real, if anyone does want to become a patron, I have a lot of different options, starting as low as $1, because I can get 1 onion from that, or two lemons, or 4 limes, one bunch of green onions–oh, you get the picture? $1 buck, even after the Patreon deduction, adds up. Dudes, I get excited when I find a penny on the ground XD Can you imagine a dollar!?

And for you high rolling ZZ Top Sharp dressed peoples (you can be whatever gender you are–it doesn’t matter! As Kei demonstrates above,) I got as high as I think $50–which I would never really ask or expect, but I thought “the worst I could is put it there. If someone is capable and willing to that–holy shit that’d be amazing!

I’m also working on getting a donate button, for single donations–which is what I usually do when I  have any spare cash at all. So keep a look out for that if you want to help out, but can’t/don’t want to donate monthly.

This was really long. I’m so sorry for bending ears and eyes like this, but I truly wanted to…express my feelings on the matter and go into detail about the choices I’ve been making with the comic.

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s gone the distance to read this, to support me, to read, to be a nice well rounded human being, to be mindful, to be understanding (in general,) and to share existence with us 😀

Take care, rest assured, my next post won’t be this long!

 

 

Blue Dragon
aka
Ashleen

P.S.
Did I put enough plugs for the new site in this post? If not I can put more.
Did I mention also that my main site will update with the revamp EARLIER than my mirror sites? Cause…yeah, it’s true! I already have this week’s page up a day early…but I will probably just update it as I get pages done so I don’t forget. There’s an incentive for ya. 😉

 

Posted in Newest Additions, Updates.

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