One of the standard words of wisdom in webcomics is that, whatever you set as your comics’ schedule, you need to adhere to that religiously. Whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, whatever… you need to keep your comics coming out on a regular rhythm so that readers always know when they can come back with an expectation of seeing new content. And every time you miss your deadline, a good percentage of readers will leave, never to come back.

Much of this thinking comes out print comics, I believe. If your newspaper strip doesn’t run every day, people forget about it and just move on to Garfield or whatever. And if your comic book doesn’t ship every month, people will forget you left off in your story and won’t bother picking up the next installment.

The problem is that those examples have proven themselves false. Readers continued to be eager for Boondocks went it went on hiatus in early 2006, and they kept asking for it for months after the original hiatus time period had supposedly elapsed before it was announced that the hiatus was now indefinite. And fans still came back when the animated series based off the strip returned a full year later, and they returned again after the two years between seasons two and 3, and still again after the four years between seasons three and four. What about the sabaticals that were taken by Bill Watterson, Berke Breathed, Gary Trudeau, Tom Batiuk..?

And in comic books? There are no end of comic books readers can point to that ran late. Kevin Smith’s Spider-Man/Black Cat series had four years between #3 and #4. Planetary had two years between #15 and #16, and three years between #26 and the final issue #27. Image books were so frequently late in their early years that Diamond Distributors had to change their overall policies regarding late books.

It’s not that regularity isn’t important; you will lose readers if you slip too far behind your schedule. Particularly if you haven’t developed a devoted following in the first place. But what many of these examples have in common is that their readership is keenly devoted. Either to the creators and/or the characters. Boondocks showcased the lives of a modern Black family the likes of which is rarely seen in fiction of any sort, much less on the comics page. The creators behind Image all brought with them large fanbases built up from years working at Marvel and DC.

When you have a group of readers who are very devoted to your work, for whatever reason(s), they will generally be pretty gracious in understanding that not all of your energies can be put into your work. They understand that illness, family emergencies, weddings, births, and all sorts of other life events happen that can take time away from creation, and they can be pretty forgiving with regard to your schedule.

BUT! That’s only after you’ve proven to them you’re producing something they really enjoy! Your most devoted fans will certainly help you weather erratic update patterns, but you need to cultivate those readers into devoted fans in the first place!