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Here we go! This is the last page going into the break, but before I talk about that, there's something I'd like to say about this scene that I've been thinking about over the past few days. There's a bit of a myth about storytelling that says conflict drives stories and therefore the more conflict you inject into things, the better/more dramatic a story becomes. And while it is true that cnflict tends to be the reason ''why'' a story is happening, I don't think very many people realize that conflict isn't a fixed concept. There are many different kinds of conflicts and some of them will help tell a story better, others will bring it crashing down. For instance, if you're writing a story about the merits of learning to communicate with others in an effort to resolve social problems, it would be super weird if you devoted a chunk of your narrative to a single character getting lost in the woods and having to survive a bear attack. Yeah, the stakes are high, I guess, but what does that have to do with anything?

Similarly, the scale of a conflict needs to be context appropriate. A tale about accepting and learning from your mmistakes looks VERY different with a character who doesn't realize they're selfish and hurtful than it does a white supremacist school shooter. And often, shows like Steven Universe get rightly criticized for treating both of those archetypes with the same soft and cuddly approach, for that reason. So why am I bringing this up?

Well, if you recall, in the original few drafts of this story, Oz actually kept the gun he went for on page 51 but we changed our minds about that upon realizing that real world meta would cause problems going forward. Ultimately it made for a better setup anyway; Oz was established as having the ability to be really sensible in the face of panic )And it isn't lost on me that he's currently not displaying that XD); it still helped estabilsh that the hidden caches are there AND, as Z points out later, they are monitored by security, which adds legitimacy to the school's setup. All that aside, this particular scene became real interesting to think about lately because if Oz had kept that gun, we would be in a very different story right now. I keep going over how I might have handled this situation and I can't quite put together a scenario in which I would've been satisfied with the outcomes. Either A, irrational Oz would have shot her, which maybe she could survive but it would be unreasonable of me not to have her respond extremely defensively in a way that would not have ended well for him; B, he would, idk realize he couldn't do it because feewings or whatever and the conflict would've just sorta deflated because I, the writer, needed it to? Even though I also need it to drag out for longer because of other stuff that happens later? or C, I would've had to find some other, random, artificial way to not have this scene set off an insane set of long term consequences, and it probably would have come off as tacky and convenient. That is to say, yes, the conflict/stakes would have been a lot higher, in theory, but it wouldn't have been the right fit. Too many other things would've been impact in ways that are kind of irrelevant to the totality of what's going on in the comic, and I genuinely don't believe I could've hit Oz's emotional beats here if the focus had been on the presence of a deadly weapon and not on the subject of discussion. So like... really dodged a bullet there =D

Alright, so, break time. First off, I'd like to announce that the past few days worth of ''not having art responsibilities'' has done wonders for my brain! I haven't actually stopped making art, but it also hasn't felt like a guilty burdern! Which has been especially rewarding because I finally had a chance to resume work on my Lord Dominator rig I'd been putting off, and she will be ready for a public release sometime this week!

The next thing on the list after that is to set up a new, temporary front page for this website, which I plan to use to showcase different image sizes than the comic, and open up submissions to see if people would like to submit fanarts or guest comics and stuff like that. There's a bunch of stuff coming and now I actually have the time to do it X3 Stay tuned!