I actually did it. After the best part of 2 years' on-and-off work in the current phase, and nearly 7 years after starting the project overall, I finally wrote the 2126th episode of Cylinder and Miserable this afternoon, completing Series 3.
I have to admit, at this point, to a strange act of... well, unwarranted strangeness. I actually picked episode 2126 as the end-point for Series 3 several years ago - at the same time (I think) that I picked 1448 as the end-point for Series 2. Which was before I'd written very much of Series 2. And for no objective reason that I can put a finger on, I actually stuck with those two completely arbitrary numbers, ending Series 2 on Episode 1448 nearly three years ago, and Series 3 on Episode 2126 today. It must be getting on for half a decade that 'Episode 2126' has been lurking at the back of my mind as a semi-mythical future event - much like 'Star Wars: Episode I' must have been to many moviegoers up until about 1997, before The Phantom Menace got released - but now it's an actual, honest-to-goodness fact, sitting on my hard disk as a .gif file. The long-gestating third phase of my huge, unwieldy and frequently bizarre webcomic project is finally over.
It hasn't always been easy - the finished article bears a scar or two from the processes of its own creation, and I owe Tim a debt of thanks for getting me to let go of some elements which (without my realising it) were dragging the comic down - but on the whole I'm pleased with the outcome. It ended rather well, if I say so myself - I'll be interested to see whether you agree with me on that point, when the newly-minted episodes get published around this time next year.
I want, and need, a break. I've got a narrative masterplan for Series 4, but I won't start writing that for at least another year, simply because it's hard work writing such a big project, and I can't keep it up continuously. So don't go expecting news of work on Series 4 in a hurry. In fact, if I've got the maths right, I think I might end up finishing publishing Series 3 before I've had as long a break as I want or started writing Series 4, which would be the first time since writing Episode 0001 that I completely run out of unpublished strips. But we'll have to wait and see on that front.
In the meantime, if you're not doing so already, you can find Series 3 still publishing over at http://cylinderandmiserable.webs.com...
- The Colclough