Recently, I’ve been enjoying the term “faster than the speed of webcomics”. It’s a joke, mostly poking fun at Zack and myself for the unfortunately human pace at which we have to tell the story of Unlife. It’s probably maddening for many readers. But the truth is, this snail’s pace suits me just fine. See, I got my entertainment at this same rate growing up, because that’s how it was done on my all time favorite show: Dragon Ball Z.
Anyone else here grow up on Dragon Ball Z? I absolutely adored Dragon Ball Z. No, I’m lying. I put that sentence in the past tense, as though the adoration waned with the years, as opposed to becoming more fierce. It was and still is my favorite show of all time. Not the best show, mind you, but my favorite. Now, I could wax poetic about how it taught me to believe in myself and never give up, or I could geek out about the complexity behind the show’s secret main character, Vegeta. But what I want to talk about today is this:
During the course of every 22 minute episode, you’d be lucky if one thing happened. I am not saying they’re bad episodes, though I would argue that Dragon Ball Z has never had a good episode (aside from maybe this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
But in those 20-plus minutes, they gave you the promise of what was to come. The grand story slowly unraveled before you, and you never quite knew when it was ending, only that it was somehow slowly progressing towards that ending. And I do mean slowly. When Goku fights Frieza (a pivotal moment in the story, for the nonbelievers), it takes, no joke, 19 episodes. FOR ONE FIGHT! That’s almost a full season of basic cable’s worth of episodes that sometimes progress no further than “I think I’ll use a LITTLE MORE of my power than I did before.” It’s kind of insane.
Now, I’m not here to argue why they did this (answer: they didn’t want the episodes to rocket past the source material), but rather how, as audience members, we still gobbled it up. We wanted more. We NEEDED more. We needed to see the exiting conclusion. We needed to know what the true destination of the fight and story was, and that tension carried us forward one more day, one more episode, hoping that next time, we’d get that moment that made all that waiting, all that watching and hoping, ultimately worth it. The show was painfully slow, often inconsistent, and sometimes seemed to be making up the rules as it goes along (“Wait, they can fuse now? Since when? Why?”), but it still progressed. And it was always worth it.
Unlife progresses in the same way (and is hopefully as worth it). Zack and I always try to make sure at least one thing happens or progresses per update, a slow burn leading towards a conclusion written over nine months ago. I sometimes wonder if the story reads better in a single sitting than one episode at a time. Maybe Kickstarting the first few chapters into volumes would give the story a new sense of pace, tension and payoffs. They were written as one long chapter. Perhaps that’s how they should be read?
For now, though, we’ll keep progressing towards the end of this interlude, one step at a time. We may not get there fast, but like Stacy said, at least we’ll get there. Still, I would love for you to see what’s on that next page. Where did Stacy fall? Is she alright? Will Jenners save the day, or is this just one more reason to run away?