Can you all honestly believe we're here? Over seven years of updates, and 500 pages? That's crazy. Unreasonable. How do comics go on this long and keep going?
When I started Alastere in 2013 I was in the middle of getting my masters degree. The origins of Alastere go back even further, probably to 1998 or earlier. What started as a single character (who would eventually become Sky) started growing into a world I gave shape to. This world I made first was heavily influenced by Phantasy Star 4, a video game for the Sega Genesis.
Initially, believe it or not, a prototype of Alastere was a sprite comic I made in High School. "TCR" was the greatest hint to its name I'll give, and it's since been removed completely from the internet. Back in this incarnation, the Lagre were cat people, and the Drago completely different. The story at this point revolved much more about international diplomacy than Alastere eventually ended up being.
I eventually became confident enough in the idea of the world that I ran a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in college set in this world, probably around 2006. It never finished, and ended up somewhere far different than my plans for the actual story of Alastere, but the characters created in it evolved into half the main cast of today. K'Sarian & Merric retained their names from said campaign, but ended up in the comic different than they were in that campaign. I've put some subtle jokes about their origins into the comic at various points, but I doubt anyone but the people who played them would know. Lun was even known as "Lunatic" back then. Some characters from that have come back in some various forms in the comic, such as Paladin Firefang.
Some time after that, I actually attempted to write Alastere as a book. I have no idea where, if anywhere, that original manuscript is, if it still has survived, but it blended more of the original ideas of the sprite comic in. I found out doing this that I was horrible at writing things regularly.
By 2012, I was three years past a close brush with death due to a disease, and had found inspiration due to a comic artist friend, Taeshi. She had been working on her own comic for something like seven? eight? years at this point, and also partially inspired by the media webcomic experience that Homestuck ended up being, I set out to make something that used the medium of a web browser in a unique way. The idea of shaping the comic like a video game came to me, given Alastere's original inspiration of a JRPG, and I set out with a few ideas to make it a comic that felt like you were playing a game. Most of the codebase of Alastere I hammered out in late 2012 over holiday break, and made a prototype of how it would work, with Dia and K'Sarian talking. I'm amazed this code has lasted this far, and it was probably good that I was forward thinking enough to not hard code too much. Honestly, the code was all based off things I had learned working in crappy IT jobs since college.
But in 2013 I started to update Alastere, with the goal to myself I would update it every week. If you don't set schedules, you can't keep to them - that's something I was taught repeatedly by many creatives. I was very novice in my art still, as I had only really started even showing my drawings to people probably in 2011 onward. I'm still uncomfortable with my art! But that's part of the creative process, I suppose. I look back on early Alastere pages and I see various experiments I was doing with styles, and it's horrible by my own eyes, but I feel I at least eventually kind of found a groove in drawing. Being forced to draw scenery backgrounds, forcing myself to draw more action poses - the very style of windows popping up with reactions was all inspired by PS4. At one point I went back and was kind of shocked as to how rigid shots of characters were in that - I resolved to try to keep things dynamic, even if it felt uncomfortable to do so.
And now we're here, in the autumn of 2020. It's been over seven years since I started Alastere. Five. Hundred. Pages. I've been to conventions, I have made physical merchandise. I made a game people can play at the table. I've had people steal things from my convention table in the middle of the night, believe it or not! I've had many times that medical conditions have made it a struggle to update. But Alastere since then has become something larger than I ever thought it would be - not only from a sheer amount of content perspective, but in fans making drawings, having MUSIC on every page... it's crazy. I never would have thought this from the beginning. I still don't even believe half of it. And we're still not even halfway through all of the main story points I have in my mind.
Taeshi - I would not have even started showing anyone else my artwork if it wasn't for her. The fact she still makes a webcomic today is a regular source of inspiration for me to keep going.
Suitcase - Although I've butted heads with him many times in the past, he has been a source of invaluable experience on managing a comic, and navigating the difficult world of self-promotion. His knowledge about ads are probably how most people FOUND the comic.
Triplebatman - A college friend turned coworker, as he's been the one that has, free of charge, provided all of the music for the comic. I can't even begin to say how much his music improves the experience of a comic, and constantly driving forward has given HIM an excuse to keep creating music - honestly, a reason I can't stop the comic now even if I wanted to.
Rocketpony - A college confidant that I have bounced so many ideas for things I needed in Alastere off his head. Character names, odd things like that, he's contributed to my work more than he understands, probably. He's been by my side at nearly every convention, despite there being nothing in it for him other than likely getting a cold after. His selflessness and care as a person has honestly allowed the comic to keep going. We even ended up randomly talking to executives at Nickelodeon at SPX one year due to his charisma.
The fans and patrons who have stuck by me this long - I've been honestly blown away with every bit of fanart people make, and every comment people make about story points. Reactions of fans give me life, honestly. I've been severely depressed for the entire time I've made the comic, and people reading and enjoying the comic keeps me going. Quite a few side characters in the comic actually have names related to certain fans, believe it or not. The fact that you all have spent MONEY on Alastere has blown my mind.
My fiancee, Lenneth - an endless fountain of positivity about my art and my comic. Whenever I experience doubt about my abilities, or my work, she's been there to offer advice from her own experience with marketing. Also one of the major sources for what to do on social media, and allowed me to meet many more people than I ever would have as the natural recluse that I am. A major reason I keep going every day.
There's many others I've met in being a webcomic artist by night. Moonlighting as an artist and creator, I've always been blown away by whenever someone much more dedicated to the craft than I am even pays me attention. As I've always had to hold down a full time job, Alastere has always been a hobby. It's been a hobby I've greatly enjoyed doing, through the ups and downs, but it's always been a side project. I never would have expected it was going to get this far. I don't know what I'd even tell the middle-school aged version of me that was coming up with this nonsense if I had to explain to them what eventually would happen to the ideas they would daydream about. How do you even explain a creative work that has 500 parts to it, and counting?
There's so much more I'd honestly like to say here, but I've already written a huge block of text straight off the top of my head, and I'm surprised if anyone's read this far. It's my hope that someday I can sustain myself entirely on Alastere. I know how much work that is, and I hope you all continue to stay with me to hear out all of this story I've shaped over the better part of two decades. Thank you so much for keeping me going.
Maybe in another 500 we'll be done with Cart 2.