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Two Year Anniversary
July 7, 2009 - Tuesday
It's been brought to my attention that Calamities of Nature reached its two year anniversary last Wednesday. I guess I've been so busy lately that I totally forgot about this milestone! Thanks to all of you who have been keeping up with Calamities over the last two years. Your support and encouragement have been key to keeping me going as long as I have. To help celebrate, I thought it would be fun to take a look at all the incarnations this site has taken over the past two years. Many of you will undoubtedly find this to be a little indulgent, but hopefully some may get a kick out of seeing how Calamities began.
When I first started in July 2007, I knew next to nothing about programming HTML. I didn't know about PHP or CSS or anything. I also didn't know anything about the webcomic scene. I had recently gotten photoshop and a tablet from my brother-in-law, and was planning to make a book. I figured in the meantime I might as well post the comics online to see if I could get some feedback. My site was a plain brown page with the title "Calamities of Nature" at the top in a calligraphy-style font. Below I posted thumbnails of completed pages that linked to larger versions. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures (or source code) from this original site. A few months later, I updated the graphics on the site to make it look a little more appealing, as you can see here. (Interesting fact: because I knew so little about graphic design, I actually stole the shaded background from ESPN.com). By fall of 2007, I had learned more about webcomics, mainly via the The Webcomic List and TopWebcomics.com, including the fact that most webcomics have blogs. So I redesigned the front page to include a blog. The blog was pretty boring though, most of the posts were simply announcements that a new page had been finished. Also, everything was hardcoded, so as you can imagine, each update was a pain in the butt!
In November of 2007 I had my first big site redesign. I wanted to give the site a cartoony feel that would better match the comic. I was pretty proud that I could make rounded corners and a fancy logo (which is the same basic logo I use to this day, albeit with many modifications). But for some reason I still refused to put the newest comic on the front page. (When I look at the old site designs, I see time and time again stubborn choices that I made then, but are difficult to fathom now.) Also, the logo at the top of the page was huge! A month or so later, I finally added the newest update to the front page. My stubborn choice this time was that the front page comic was smaller to accommodate the blog, while pages in the archive were larger.
During spring of 2008, I had decided to incorporate advertisements, so that I could make some pizza and beer money from the traffic I was starting to get. I also had 50+ comics in my archive and was getting tired of updating by hand each time (I still hardcoded my site--can you believe it?!). This finally inspired me to learn a little PHP, so that the site would be generated dynamically. All of this prompted my next major redesign. This design seemed pretty popular with people. The darker color scheme made the comic stand out. The banner graphic also helped to set the mood for the comic.
My next big change came because I was getting tired of the full-page comics I had been doing for over a year. I also wanted to do some shorter, quicker gags, which seemed like a waste with such a large format. So in fall of 2008, I switched to a traditional, newspaper strip style format. This had the added benefits that I could update more often, and it fit better on a computer screen. So I made another redesign to better fit with this format. Although this design was really clean (and earned me some good cash with the leaderboard ad on the top), the site felt a little too sterile for me. This always bugged me, so last March I took away the top banner ad and added some more color, giving the site you see today.
So I hope you enjoyed this look back at the Calamities of Nature sites. Feel free to ask me questions about any details I may have left out. Also, don't forget that I have original artwork available for auction. If for no other reason, please bid because the current winning price is embarrassingly low, and I don't know if my fragile ego can take seeing a comic sell for so little!