I’m a webcomic artist who works on a comic called Wayrift. Wayrift is turning 13 years old today. It’s actually been around longer than that, but for simplicity’s sake, I just call it 13 years.
13 years and 1,921 comics posted! For any creative project on the Internet to last that long – website, blog, fiction, webcomic – that seems like a lifetime!
During that 13 years, Wayrift has updated three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – come rain or shine. We take a scheduled vacation week off once or twice a year. But I’ve not actually missed an update for anything within my control in all this time. We’ve had no hiatus. We’ve taken no creative breaks.
I know I couldn’t do it without my creative partner and best friend, Syn. Together, we forged this strange world and family of figments who remain a very strong creative outlet for us both, even throughout our adult lives. I can’t imagine a life without this creativity and these fictional pieces of myself.
They’re part of me in a very deep and mysterious way – maybe that’s why we can’t stop creating stories for them. We have so much backstory… so much script… I could probably draw Wayrift for a lifetime and never cover everything we’ve written over the past 14-15 years!
How does it get done? We started this project as just a silly foray into comic-dom back when I was still in college, and I had a lot more time on my hands. Producing Wayrift takes many, many hours of my free time, and yes, there are some weeks I just don’t feel like doing it… but I still do. I’ve locked myself into a pretty rigid schedule that I’ve followed for years. I know that if I were to waver just a bit, I’d be tempted towards laziness (my natural state of being), and I’d likely let the project slip… so I never give myself that opportunity.
My motto is always “Wayrift before gaming!” (So hard some days…)
Our readers and friends, who I thank for being part of this for the long run, would also not let me get away with it. Some of our readers have been here ever since I can remember. Old and new, they are just as much a part of Wayrift as us creators are. Some weeks, I’m in a creative mood and create just for the sake of it. Some weeks, I create because I don’t want to disappoint folks who were left on one of our normal Friday cliffhangers. 😉
To Fan or Not to Fan
I don’t usually tell people that I’m a webcomic creator. It’s not something I spread around at work or with folks I meet IRL. In fact, it’s not something I usually spread around online, either, even in the various guilds and MMOs I’ve been a part of.
Some of that is because the origins of Wayrift – the history, world and some characters are loosely based on the original SNES version of Final Fantasy IV (which was FFII to us back then). It’s always a little embarrassing to admit that, because then Wayrift sometimes gets the response of being “just fan-girl stuff.” I’ve even once had a reader, who really enjoyed Wayrift initially, tell me they were “very disappointed” when they learned Wayrift was “fanfiction”… despite the fact the stories, lore and characterizations are all 95% original stuff.
However, when I say loosely based upon, I do mean loosely.
Here’s the scenario:
- Back in 1991-ish, two girls on the opposite sides of the US fell in love with FFII as their first JRPG in their early teens… before JRPG was even a known term.
- These two girls were inspired to create fan works about FFII… This was back before the internet existed for me and I even knew what “fan fiction” or “fan art” was.
- Later in life, these two girls met online and realized – Hey, someone else created a really cool version of a fan world based on FFII!
- These two girls were inspired by each other and began to role play chat, having their characters (which were based loosely off of what we knew about FFII as teens) interact with each other.
- Blending this together made a whole new sort of world, two different sides of the same coin, with lots of neat original lore, magic and history. Because the FFII world used to be so open-ended, there wasn’t a lot we could do that actually broke canon, and our imaginations soared.
- These two girls thought it might be funny to take those RP chats, which were already in script-like format, and turn them into a silly online comic…
…which turned into Wayrift, still being created 13 years later.
Our problem is that we walk the line of fandom-yet-not-fandom. Back in the early days of Wayrift, there was only one re-release of FFIV, for Playstation. We thought FFIV was safe as a forgotten entry in the series, what with FFVII being a more lauded gateway for new folks. So, we took for granted that Square would leave our fantasy world alone… which didn’t happen in the end (It got a like a million re-releases and a canon-destroying sequel, FFIV: The After Years).
As years passed, Wayrift moved more and more away from its FFIV origins. The characters we write about are almost exclusively our own, or our own version of how we saw canon characters. In fact, at this point, we could pick up our cast and toss it into a completely different world, rename a few things, and the story would still go on, unhindered.
So now, it’s hard to describe Wayrift. Do I call it a FFIV fan comic… because it’s not. And anyone coming to it may be disappointed at how far we’ve strayed from the FFIV world. But, I also can’t say that it’s 100% original work, because it’s also not, since the origins were based in FFIV! So much confusion!
I tend to just throw it out there as a “Fantasy Webcomic” and call it a day. We don’t usually attract a lot of FFIV fans, but we do seem to attract fantasy lovers. In fact, a poll we did 2 years ago said that 43% of our readers had never played FFIV before reading Wayrift, and went on to play it because they enjoyed our comic so much! Squeenix should hire us as marketers! 😄
The nice thing about playing FFXIV now is that we meet a lot of FF fans… some who even remember FFIV as FFII! It makes it easier to admit, “Hey, yeah. I have a webcomic that’s really loosely based on that old game…” to our Free Company members. 🙂
A lot has changed over 13 years. Characters have changed. My art has definitely changed – what started out as a “manga” style, including the black and white screentone attempts, is now a full-colored comic… that still retains a bit of manga influence to it.
Where will Wayrift go from here? I don’t know, but we’re going to keep on creating!