Hi, everyone! As promised, this year I decided to look back at how Metrocop fared during the past year. On one hand, I’m doing it as a means of transparency in regards to the site’s initiatives and their results; on the other, by doing this, I believe it’ll shed some light on where Metrocop can go in 2015. It’s gonna be a mostly informal thing (this isn’t exactly an academic paper of a business report), and hopefully it’ll be as enjoyable for you as it is for me!
Summary of Events
Okay, to begin with, let’s look at what happened here in the site throughout the year.
First things first, I think it’s important to be honest and point out the site started the year in a bout of inactivity. The very first post of the year was only in February, with the reveal of the cover for the fourth chapter of The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage; nearly two weeks later, I updated the site again to post AJ Rimmer’s latest (and last so far) Worse than Life episode. March only had a single post to mention the long-running Running on Empty series by Popwarbunny, whereas April started with a 5-panel April Fool’s gag and ended with two teasers for upcoming comics (only one of which has actually been released yet).
The month of May finally saw the release of The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage: Chapter Four, but afterwards Metrocop skipped June and only had one minor post in July announcing the re-release of the acclaimed GMod comics classic Jeff. August teased more Hercule Cubbage and celebrated two years of Metrocop, whereas the first week or so of September made good on those teases with the release of Chapter Five, as well as an explanation of the endgame for Hercule Cubbage’s adventures (which is still the plan!).
In terms of activity, October was by far the most important month of this year for Metrocop. Alongside the current logo came the Nostalgia Update, which inaugurated the long-promised Comic Archive that finally turned Metrocop into more of a GMod comics hub, and soon after the Halloween Update that brought an extra classic comic into the Archive. Another noteworthy thing in October was the beginning of the
Weekly Comics Roundup, which will continue into the new year as a highlight of new comics created by the GMod community.
After all that, November and December were both quiet months, with the only post worth pointing out being the announcement of Mythic Comics, a new series for 2015, which also came with the caveat that future chapters of The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage may still be some time away. Behind the scenes, I began work on a major new feature for Metrocop midway through December, to debut ASAP into 2015.
Overall, until October it was pretty much as slow and inactive as the first two years, while I worked on both Hercule Cubbage and the Comic Archive. Afterwards, however, I finally managed to make the site I wanted Metrocop to be all this time – and it “only” took me two whole years to get there! Based on that alone, I’ll happily label this year a small success for the site and a good starting point for the future.
To be honest, I don’t really care for the stats – Metrocop is a small site, currently staffed only by me, and made for cheap only for the purposes of entertainment, so I’m happy as long as at least a couple of people come and enjoy the site. That said, I want to be transparent about it, so here go the actual numbers for you to judge as you see fit.
Overall, in 2014 until the date of this post, Metrocop had 21,280 views, with 3,838 unique visitors (meaning that, during the year, a little over 3,800 people came to the site). The number of unique visitors is actually a substantial decrease from 5,999 unique visitors in 2013; however, the number of views was actually higher: 21,280 in 2014 versus 19,328 in 2013. That means that, on average, there were more views per visitor, i.e. there were less people but the ones that visited saw more pages and posts.
I’m actually quite happy with that, as it means that people stayed more often and, most likely, there were less people coming here by mistake or just glancing over a page and leaving. It’s also somewhat surprising that Metrocop kept this momentum, as Metrocop was lucky enough to be featured on Kotaku early in 2013, which gave it a couple of days of a massive, if short-lived, number of views and visitors, and had repercussions in the number of views throughout that year. This year, Metrocop only got a comparatively small number of views from Kotaku (208, to be precise), but it still managed to get nearly as many unique visitors and nearly 2,000 more views – not bad, considering it wasn’t really publicized anywhere!
In terms of posts and pages with the higher view count, here’s the list provided by WordPress:
If you’re getting confused by #3, “Welcome. It’s safer here.”, that’s the old main page for the site, the one with links to Apostasy, The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage and an external link (now defunct) to Waxx and okimin’s The Banner series.
Overall, there are a couple of things that surprised me. The first one is that the main page of the Comic Archive, despite hosting the largest collection of classic GMod comics not named Concerned, has only had 393 views – but then again, during the Nostalgia Update, I kept writing posts linking to the individual series being posted rather than the hub, which was released only on the final day of the Update, so perhaps it’s not too surprising.
The second is that, despite infrequent releases and not being really talked about anywhere, The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage still gets the most attention in the site. I honestly expected the release of over 200 old-school comics to dwarf TAoHC in these final three months, but on the contrary. I suppose the fact that Jeff, the main addition, was released as a stand-alone download by its author soon after I talked with him about retrieving and re-hosting them; most people in the GMod circles that wanted to re-read the comics probably already had them again by the time I put them up online.
I’m not an expert on how many views a small website gets per year, but in general I’d say Metrocop is doing fine as a site currently updated by only one guy and very rarely. It’s no PHWOnline, but hopefully this means there’s still a lot of interest in Garry’s Mod comics, particularly new ones. Speaking of which…
The State of Comics
Metrocop operates with the mission of bringing attention to comics created using the Source engine (be it with GMod or Source Filmmaker, although so far the latter hasn’t had much luck in that regard, as far as I know) and the vision of shepherding a reborn comics community, with lots of people once again actively making fun comics for others to read and enjoy. Therefore, it’s important to note how active 2014 was in regards to new comics, even if they had no relation or no influence from Metrocop.
Unfortunately, this section is harder to fill with actual data, as most comics are released on the Facepunch forums nowadays and are easily lost amongst hundreds of screenshots, as Facepunch has little to no means of differentiating a comic release from a thread about a single screenshot or a collection thereof. In my opinion, that is actually a large impediment to comics making a comeback – there is still massive interest in creating imagery with Garry’s Mod, particularly now that there are advanced techniques to make it truly beautiful, but a single image gets as much or even more attention from the community as a much longer comic with as much or more effort put into it.
That said, from my perception throughout the year, comic making has actually seen some good signs. There were a few spurs of comic activity every few months or so, and creators such as Gogi and CrazyKnife have kept the community engaged and entertained with steadfast releases. There was also a seemingly higher number of newcomers trying their hand at comics than in the past few years, although it doesn’t seem like most stuck around, sadly – but it does show people are interested in making comics, and an active community could help motivate them into being more active. There’s also at least one promising comic maker who’s been working on a single comic for well over a year, which bears promise for the near future.
In comparison with previous years, I’d say 2014 was a decent improvement for comic making. Even if it’s still nothing in comparison with the enormous amount of activity of 2006-2007, it also seemed to have more releases than the last few years. Perhaps more importantly, it also saw people way more interested in comics than they previously were, as well as comics coming back to light somewhat in the Garry’s Mod community. In essence, it wasn’t revolutionary, but it could be a great stepping stone for a comeback in 2015.
I feel like that was a thorough enough (perhaps even too much) look back at 2014, so let’s take a moment to finish off by looking forward into 2015.
First of all, I think it’s crucial to bear in mind that 2015 is actually the tenth anniversary of Garry’s Mod comic making. It marks ten years since Jeff, Apostasy, Concerned and many of the primordial, classic series began – and, in some cases, ended -, as well as the start of this whole thing. I’m going to try and bring that to the forefront in Metrocop throughout the year, as it’s worth a celebration, but also in an attempt to drive people into comic making through nostalgia. Plus, perhaps I can even nudge a few old-schoolers to do a special issue of their classic comics for old times’ sake, if not outright come back for real.
At the same time, as I mentioned recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the things back in the day that helped foster an active and interested community were perskin comics, the proper kind that told imaginative stories using familiar people from the community. In order to do that, and because I have ideas from as far back as 2010 to adapt and like the flexibility and liberty of perskin comics, I’m going to be making the new perskin series Mythic Comics to both entice readers and motivate prospective new comic makers to make their own stories and get a chance to appear in mine, if they desire to. Likewise, they should take less time to produce than The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage, as there’s less pre-production needs and a lack of the slavish adherence to the continuity and art-style of Half-Life 2, so it’ll hopefully result in me making more than 2 comics a year, and therefore more content original to Metrocop.
Another crucial thing to bear in mind for 2015 is that there simply isn’t a place for a comic making community right now. Facepunch sees a lot of activity, but there’s no incentive to be a comic maker there as the mindset is on making artistic single screenshots, which, although generally stunning, don’t have the same impact and interest as an actual story. Therefore, I think it’s time for Metrocop to finally have a dedicated place where people can interact, enjoy themselves and not only post their own comics, but also get the support and attention of a like-minded community.
Lastly, I might end up doing a recruitment drive for the site itself, to try and find people that can keep the blog active with interesting and dynamic content, so that people have a better reason to come back regularly. Likewise, as soon as a community for Metrocop is fully formed, I’ll be using the site to highlight content created by members in the same way that I currently point out new comics with the Comics Roundups. My goal is to create a higher level of involvement and interaction and motivate people to remain engaged and active.
Last year, I started off with the goal of making Metrocop a bigger website, with more comics content as well as a highlight some of the great creative content that used to be common in the heydays of GMod comic making. In that regard, I think I managed to succeed somewhat with the dawn of the Comic Archive, which will continue to expand in the future.
Next year, the focus will be on expanding Metrocop from a single website run by one guy into more of a community for comic makers, the kind of which hasn’t really been seen for a few years now. Unfortunately, in terms of funds I’m quite limited, but I’ve already put a lot of work into a means of achieving that, which I will debut soon and that will hopefully work well enough for people to be interested in taking part. At the same time, Mythic Comics will be, indirectly, a way of fostering a sense of community and motivating others into making more comics.
For Metrocop, 2014 was a good year, relatively similar to the first two but with a big push near the end towards expansion, and a bigger sense of homage and care for comics of the past. If everything goes to plan, 2015 will be an even bigger step and a celebration of the ten years that came before, particularly those early years when everything was new, fresh and exciting. I hope that you’ll stick around and, once the opportunity arises, also join the fun and contribute into turning Metrocop into a place where people can interact and share the fun.
Happy New Year!