I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s, and that your 2018 is shaping up to be a great one! 2017 threw Rachel and me a few curveballs to be sure, but it ended on perhaps one of the best notes we could have imagined. I’ll explain.

As I mentioned last week, Beyond the Western Deep is independent once again.

“What does this mean?” you ask. Well, to answer that question, I have to go back a little ways.

So, at the tail-end of 2014, Rachel and I signed a publishing agreement with a creator-owned comics publisher. We had been searching for a way to increase the awareness of our webcomic, and working with a real publisher to get it into book stores seemed like the best way of doing that.

However, after the release of two paperback volumes, Rachel and I decided that the publisher we’d signed with wasn’t really the right fit for Western Deep. There are plenty of reasons why things didn’t work out, but one major reason was that we felt because our comic releases for free on the internet, we needed to make sure any physical volumes we produced went well above and beyond the call of duty.

This meant hardcovers with quality paper stock. Extra content and bonus art. Pinups by guest artists. All things that Rachel and I did in our self-printed 500 book hardcover run. We wanted to be able to iterate quickly on merchandise, experiment with new media like video games, bring in guest artists like Jerome to create new stories in the universe, and more.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a problem in wanting to extricate ourselves from our publishing contract. Specifically, our contract didn’t really leave much in the way of wiggle room for parting ways amicably. Our publisher ultimately allowed us the option to buy our way out of the contract, purchasing the remaining unsold stock of Western Deep paperbacks, but this number was… shall we say, prohibitive.

It was a lot of money.

Rachel and I were pretty despondent for a while, feeling that we may never get the publishing rights back. But then we got a little help, and that help is how we were able to complete our buyout of the rights.

You might know Varuna from his contributions to our comments section, or from his presence in our official community Discord. I’ve personally known him for well over a decade, and he has been a trusted sounding board since some of the earliest Western Deep content that Rachel and I did. After explaining our situation, Varuna offered to help us out.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I announce Varuna Vahn as official financier of the world of the Western Deep, helping us to secure our independence and begin exploration of next steps.

“Wait, what are these next steps?” you ask.

Well, I think it’s pretty clear that there are two absolute must-haves on our list: a reprint of Volume 1 in hardcover, and a special edition hardcover of Volume 2. That’s before we even get to repopulating our online storefront.

However, our plan is not to just print off a run of books and sell them online.

Our goal as a newly-independent IP is to treat this opportunity like a full-blown reintroduction of Beyond the Western Deep to the wider world.

We don’t just want to print a book and hope people find it, we want to engage with people. We want to find new readers — readers that we would find at every single comic convention we traveled to who had never even heard of Western Deep, let alone read it for free online.

Rachel, Varuna, Jerome, and I are still planning out what this campaign will mean and how it will manifest, but suffice it to say, anything we do we want to do right. We want Western Deep to be synonymous with quality. We want people to read it online and still feel satisfied buying it physically. We want it to sit proudly on people’s bookshelves.

We also want people to know it exists. That’s a big one!

So yeah, there’s a lot we want to do, and we’re really excited to put these plans into action. 2018 is indeed proving to be an interesting year for the world of the Western Deep, and we’re excited to have you all along for the ride!