A few days ago eight more pages of Chemiclord’s story were sent off to be illustrated by Shipeng. There’s great work in there with a few more reveals, and I know I’m excited to see it come back from our talented artist.

I think it would be an understatement to say that EXIERN’s storyline under Chemiclord’s pen has created some differing opinions among the readers. Personally, I have enjoyed it and will miss him. I want to thank him for what I feel has been an amazing job. A job I could not have done myself.

You see, back when control of EXIERN fell to my behind-the-scenes shoulders I had the option of taking up the storytelling. But I turned it down. Drowemos had done a great thing with Tiffany, Peonie, and Denver. He’d taken what had started – purposefully – as caricatures and turned them into full-fledged characters. At the time of transition I recognized that, if I started writing then, I wouldn’t be writing them as characters – they’d just be caricatures of themselves. And that would be a disservice to not only what Drowemos had achieved, but also to the readers that had followed them on their path.

But we found Chemiclord and he pushed the story forward. We’ve seen growth and change, and the status quo has been upset. Regardless of your opinion about the contents of his story, what he did was a difficult and challenging thing to do. EXIERN could have been nothing more than a weekly joke about Tiffany’s discomfort as a female, Peonie’s body, and/or Denver’s bookworm traits. It could probably last for years on the ad revenue brought in with little more than boobs and quick punchlines and no changes to anything. And no doubt there are plenty of people who would have been fine with that, and you aren’t wrong for thinking so.

But that would have been the easy thing to do.

I feel that EXIERN and its readers deserve more. So did Drowemos and so did Chemiclord. And the amazing thing is that Chemiclord pushed down that hard path delivering two pages a week for over two years. He pioneered a rare thing, continuing on the story of a webcomic after the creator stepped back from it. Personally, I am amazed by this and honored to have worked with him. His EXIERN arc is an achievement to be proud of.

That doesn’t change the fact that Shipeng has nine pages in his inbox – one of which is the first EXIERN page entirely penned by me.

For the last year I have been working on a trade paperback called EXIERN: Age of Drowemos that will collect all of Drowemos’ work, and includes that which transitioned into Chemiclord’s material. Because many of the pages needed to be completely remastered for printable quality, I have been spending the last three months retyping and recreating over 100 EXIERN pages. There’s still more to be prepared for the book, but taking such an intimate look at these pages as been better preparation for me than I could have ever imagined.

I’ve always had my story plans, but now I know plenty of little moments through Drowemos’ and Chemiclord’s work which will enrich my plans and those left by my predecessors. And I have no doubt that EXIERN will continue with more humor and character growth.

But I don’t mean this to be about me. As the last of Chemiclord’s pages post I just want to bring attention to the sweat and expansion he introduced to EXIERN. He brought to us a story he cared about and put great thought into. Going into EXIERN’s extended existence we knew that it would not be easy to bear the weight of a great creator. Chemiclord did it very well.

And now I have to bear the weight of two.