Today, June 12th, 2012, is the 12th anniversary of Schlock Mercenary on the web. Sometimes I try to work anniversary-related themes into the strip. Sometimes I just give it a wide miss.
We're a little more than halfway through Book 13 right now, and today marks the beginning of the 13th year of the comic. I suppose a little bit of long-term planning could have aligned the beginning of Book 13 with the beginning of Year 13, but all that slaved-to-the-calendar stuff went out the window with Schlocktoberfest back in 2009. I write the stories at the length they need to be, and sometimes maybe there's serendipity in the alignment of strips to dates. I don't wait for July 4th to blow things up, I don't wait for Halloween to tell scary stories, and I don't wait for Easter to bring characters back from the dead (which would make far more sense thematically than anything having to do with eggs.)
An anniversary is as good a time as any to announce something I've let slip in other places: I have an end in mind for the strip. No, it's not coming at the end of Book 13. It's probably five to eight years out, maybe Book 18, or perhaps 20. But in the grand, overarching story of the Schlock Mercenary universe, we have definitely begun Act III.
This raises all kinds of questions that I'm not going to answer just now, like "will the daily comic continue?" and "what will you be doing for a living in 2020?" Right now, this minute, I'm focusing on making Book 13 the best book yet, and laying the plans that will ensure that Book 14 is better still. If you'd like to hear a little bit about how I do this planning, I talked about Book 12 in-depth on Writing Excuses a few weeks ago. Not coincidentally, that's where I let slip the whole Act III thing. Go have a listen!