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Reflections on the end of Part Eight

This was probably my favorite chapter so far, but also the one that made me realize that doing this story in comic form is incredibly unwieldy.

I love the round panels and space background, I wouldn’t change them for anything, but good God do round panels have bad packing efficiency. This chapter also probably had the most moving parts and subplots- Pak Parang’s social divide, The Boys expositing about their childhoods, Farouz and Ixkatli’s fraught former relationship- I love biased exposition, but it started to get too much even for me. This would have been better served by a novel format, maybe lightly illustrated, where the plot doesn’t have to move at a glacial weekly pace.

After finishing up this chapter, my motivation to make any more comic pages cratered and never returned. I have general ideas for the remaining chapters, but only vague ones; I can’t summon up the will to make detailed scripts or even outlines. Still, I want to post what ideas and sketches I do have, since I think it’s worth it to show them off to the world, and give a sense of Parhelion’s planned finale.

But if I couldn’t do that, I kind of like the idea of this as the story’s end: The Boys are off on an unknown path that makes a mockery of both their jobs. The story’s focus has shifted to the locals, dealing with their own issues.

I’ve had some pretty sustained artblock, along with entering grad school and some other things weighing on me, and I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do from here. There’s a giant Parhelion-shaped hole in my heart, and I’ve made some stabs at a sci-fi setting that’s transparently just Also Parhelion. I’m trying to accept that I can just make standalone pieces that aren’t tied into a grand overarching project, or take a break altogether. There’s an overall feeling of being locked out of a big source of entertainment and self-worth. Things in the rest of my life are generally going well, but this still really stings.

I’m optimistic about future work, and I’ll keep myself open to entirely new opportunities. Maybe the next creatively-fulfilling thing I do will be unlike anything I’ve done before.

Once again, thank you to everyone who read Parhelion, shared it, drew fanart, made shitposts, encouraged my good ideas and deflected my bad ones, and everything else. I don’t think the past four years were a waste of time. This is exactly the kind of grandiose project that every artist has to make, and considering I dove in at 19 with no firm plan or comic-making experience, I’m immensely proud of how far it went.

The Future of Parhelion

After considering the time and energy I can budget to ongoing art projects, and the ebb and flow of my own motivation, I have come to a conclusion.

The current plan is to indefinitely suspend comic pages after the current queue runs its course. (The current chapter, Whale Watching, will finish and a few pages of the next interlude will go up.)

When I dove into making Parhelion at the start of 2016, I had a general sense that webcomics were an enormous undertaking, but now I’m not sure I have the time and drive to see it through as a fully-rendered comic. I have the general plot structure mapped out to the end, and I really want to release scripts, sketches, and story notes to convey my vision for it as much as possible. There are plenty of arcs and set pieces that I would love to show, but I can’t promise that I’d have the means to fully render them as comic pages. (Especially the backstory of Kiefer-161’s rebellion, where Peter’s incendiary anarchist ancestor has to team up with an exiled prince.)

It doesn’t help that Parhelion is made in Flash CS4, a depreciated decade-old program that dates back to my short-lived middle school dreams of animation. I’ve been dragging my feet on learning digital painting and Photoshop-style interfaces for years, and while I still love the style I’ve developed within Flash, I would like to branch out more.

In the coming weeks, I’ll transition my Patreon page to being a general hub for my art projects, and hopefully hash out some kind of post schedule.

Every day, I am blown away by the reader response to Parhelion, and so happy that this weird indulgent project I made resonated with this many people. Even in the first pages, with awkward mouse-drawn art and a digressive story, readers saw potential in it, and I am eternally grateful. In addition to laying out the structure of the final chapters, I plan on making more art within the setting- continuing Hector and Onom, drawing more zlotl variants, and so on.

Parhelion taught me so much about making art on a consistent schedule, the visual language of comics, ongoing storytelling, reader feedback, pacing, shading, speech-bubble placement, composition, strategic use of color, and ultimately when to know my limits. It’s bittersweet, I know, but it’s the best for everyone.

I also have every intention of working more with Parhelion’s themes in new contexts– alien sociology and government structure, moral imperatives that are impossible but no less necessary, weird queer narratives, and more.

Thank you all so, so much for bearing with me, and now I’ll salve my soul by drawing some weird alien politicians, untethered to any story.

-Cryptovexillologist