Part 40 - Runaway Train
in Chapter 3 - From the Ashes

Part 40 - Runaway Train
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)

Author Notes
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Hobo of Justice

31st May 2022, 8:15 AM

Wow. It’s been a year since a new episode went up, huh? A year. That’s uh… not good.
And as bad as that is, this is the third time it’s happened.

I’m gonna be honest here – things haven’t been improving as much as I’d hoped. I’ve never really felt like I knew what I was doing and it’s stuff like this that make me question how that can still the case after all this time. I’ve been doing this for… how long? Should have a better grasp on this by now, but I don’t. I can’t even come close to guessing when, if ever, things will stop being this way. If anything, my assumption is that this comic’s gonna have a troubled creation for the rest of its life – however long that turns out to be.

So, let’s get this out of the way.
Power of the Universe is not doing well. Uploads have never been more erratic and spaced out. This is the third year-long gap in the comic's run, and I don’t expect that it’ll be the last. If this length of inactivity is enough to drive anyone away from reading, know that I don’t blame you.
To be clear, the comic is not stopping - but its future has been growing more uncertain.

I’ve said some stuff about why the comic’s been in this state over in the “blog” section, but those things are buried under mountains of inane ramblings and shoved to a side section of the site. So I’m saying it here for visibility’s sake. Anyone that has even a vague interest in reading this comic should know that this huge upload gulf isn’t some one-time fluke or exception. Power of the Universe has been in a rut for a long time now.

To help visualize that rut I’ve compiled the comic’s lifespan in panel count over the years:
(panel count seems to be the most accurate representation of output)

Year 1: 692 panels
Year 2: 774 panels
Year 3: 647 panels
Year 4: 558 panels
Year 5: 547 panels (year long gap)
Year 6: 149 panels
Year 7: 187 panels
Year 8: 207 panels (year long gap)
Year 9: 111 panels (so far, year long gap)

As you can see things fell off a cliff in year six and haven’t recovered. Will they? I don’t know. The comic may wither and die, limping the entire way to its grave. That’s a possibility that I’ve spent a long time trying to come to terms with. Whether you’ve been here for years or found the comic last week, I want you to know that I respect your time and your interest. I know what it’s like to watch a webcomic fade away, and it’s not fun.

If you lose interest, either now or somewhere down the line, and want to bail - that’s cool. I support that. I hope you got something out of the ride, and wish you luck on finding a smoother one to enjoy. There are so many great artists out there making vastly superior stuff in the same vein – many of which actually have their act together.

But if you still think you could enjoy this thing - even with no promise of closure or consistency - then awesome. Welcome (back) aboard. Next stop - who knows. I haven’t felt in control for a while now, but I still love making this thing and I’ve got too much riding on it to stop holding on just yet. And if things don’t get better, then… well… train wrecks can be pretty entertaining, too, in their own way.

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Hobo of Justice

31st May 2022, 8:15 AM

Anyway, about the page itself.

This was a weird one. From the beginning I was worried about how the concept of two dudes sitting on rocks and talking for an entire page could be made interesting. And it’s a long one at 111 panels. I don't know how to fill something like that.

It’s uh… really easy to forget how quickly people move on from one panel to the next. Might have something to do with the three thousand weeks each page takes to get done. In the end, I think that concern – warranted or not – helped trim this episode down to a better form, though.

Trivia: Runaway Train is (so far) the tallest PotU episode pixel-wise.

Next time on Power of the Universe: Someone gets mad or something.

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31st May 2022, 1:10 PM

Well, I'll enjoy the ride as far as it goes! :D

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Hobo of Justice

31st May 2022, 2:23 PM

Glad to hear :]
Thanks for being on board.


31st May 2022, 5:36 PM

But the price of such knowledge. What has it cost!?

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Hobo of Justice

31st May 2022, 7:22 PM

Few million brain cells and the sandwich he was gonna have for lunch. No biggie.

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Kitty Litter Comics

1st Jun 2022, 2:57 AM

Don't worry, I also regularly take year long breaks between uploads and my art is much less high-effort

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Hobo of Justice

1st Jun 2022, 6:57 PM

Comforting to not be the only one.


1st Jun 2022, 12:07 PM

What an update! That was worth waiting for. :)

I'll keep riding this train, good luck with whatever comes next!

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Hobo of Justice

1st Jun 2022, 7:01 PM

Thank you!
Glad it was worth the wait.


1st Jun 2022, 1:10 PM

A great page as always!

Thanks for all the effort you've been putting into this comic. I wouldn't worry or put yourself down about the gaps between uploads. Each one of these pages is extremely high quality, and even taking a year to make a single page is an achievement in and of itself.

With such a massive project it can be hard to find motivation to continue, although I think you've got the right idea with this page. Choosing to invent a new story rather than sticking mostly to the nuzlocke on which this comic was based is a great way to not only make the story itself more unique, but also to make the project as a whole more feasible.

There's still have half a dozen or so gym badges to go. Even if you focussed purely on this more traditional form of progression, it would still take many, many years to reach any kind of conclusion, and that would involve leaving character development largely to the wayside. Instead, perhaps it would be worth continuing with the direction of this page and forming a new narrative that plays best to the strongest parts of this comic; the characters.

If you can find a way to weave the characters and their development in with the wider story threads - such as the nature of the universe and the "Voice of Reason" as Cyrus puts it - you could make a much more satisfying conclusion than you might get from simply following gym progression. There's plenty of old story beats to pull on to help make the story feel rounded out, like the Lake Guardians noticed at the start of the comic, but not mentioned much afterwards.

Anyway, what do I know? Regardless of the direction you choose to go down, we'll continue to be your loyal readers, grateful for whatever you have time to write.

I wish you the best of luck with the comic, and life in general.

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Hobo of Justice

1st Jun 2022, 7:18 PM

Ah, yes. All these years for two gym badges. What a pace, huh?

When I first started this comic it was a more direct telling of events (and much faster), but I eventually wanted more out of it and restarted with an outline of ambitious (for me) things I wanted to try. I’m grateful that outline still sparks something in my brain that gets me excited to see it through.

That being said, I have put more effort into this project than originally intended, and that’s definitely one of the big reasons for how long it’s been taking. After Chapter 2 ended, I considered dropping some of those ideas and simplifying the outline for the sake of getting things done. Chapter 3 would have been much different if I’d gone down that road.

But I didn’t scrap those ideas. If anything, I doubled down on some of them. And maybe that’ll turn out to have been bad for the health of the comic in the long run, but the trajectory of that outline is still what I want to follow through to the end. I’ve worried that my writing would fall apart when the structure of the Nuzlocke started falling away, so if Chapter 3 is going okay so far, I’m glad.

If this all actually weaves together into a satisfying conclusion in the end, I’d be really happy. Heck, I’d be happy for it just to make it to the end at all. I do wish some things had been set up better in the beginning, but also grateful for the foresight to set up the things that were. Trying to find a balance between ambition and realism relative to my skill level has been a difficult thing to judge since the beginning. Maybe I won't be able to pull off taking things toward my own direction, but I want to at least try.

Thank you for writing this out and the words of encouragement. Reading someone say that the characters are the strongest part of the comic is heartening, and the thoughts on overall direction help me feel better about where things are headed. It’s been a really long learning experience, and I’m glad that it can entertain some people along the way. Appreciate it.

Liro Raériyo

2nd Jun 2022, 1:06 PM

You cant get rid of me that easily

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Hobo of Justice

2nd Jun 2022, 8:14 PM

On to Plan B

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31st Jul 2022, 4:42 PM

Well I sure as hell won't get off this Train anytime soon and agree with Cyrus here
Take all the time you need. Even if its one page every one or two years it will still be worth the wait^^

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Hobo of Justice

6th Aug 2022, 4:59 PM

Thank you. It’s good to hear that people are okay with the unsteady/lengthy nature of uploads. Appreciate that.
I’ll try to keep this thing from crashing as long as I can.

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31st Jul 2022, 8:39 PM

wow just wow
i read all of the comic in a week and just wow.
keep making these banger comics!
you rock!

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Hobo of Justice

6th Aug 2022, 5:04 PM

Nice. Hope it was a good binge.
I’ll keep at it, thanks!

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7th Aug 2022, 7:29 PM

yea it was a really good binge read!


15th Aug 2022, 1:59 PM

Strange. I just watched a movie about a train only to open this comic again to see a new page. Keep doing you and the rest will come.

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Hobo of Justice

31st Aug 2022, 11:03 AM

Hm. Coincidence? Or fate? Either way, hopefully the train was the main character.

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16th Aug 2022, 4:03 AM

Wow, so many enthralling storylines! I can hardly keep track! Will Richard be able to finally unmask the mystery around him, or will he simply run out of steam? At any rate, this nuzlocke challenge has certainly been derailed!

Yet another chilling, impactful, beautiful addition to the story. Love it love it love it.

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Hobo of Justice

31st Aug 2022, 11:08 AM

It steams Richard bit off a little more than he can chew chew, and may be in for a freight when he realizes how rail biting of a ride he’s in for.

Thank you, glad you enjoyed.


8th Sep 2022, 11:21 PM

I'm going off the rails on this crazy train!!!! for real tho, in this for the long haul and I will always be excited for more. You're not the only creator with long ass gaps, I can name 5 web comics right now that have had or are currently on 2year long gaps(and I'm still checking in on those), so don't stress too much and focus on making something that you can enjoy making and be proud of. cause you should be proud, every page is pure top tier art, the characters are all unique and fleshed out in a way that the games and anime could never hope to match in their child friendly format.

I adore the meta of him seeing stats and fist bumping the portal-rift-thingy. maybe it will give birth to an ultra beast, maybe it will never make anysense, maybe he suffers supreme head trauma from the fainting spell and all this Pokemon stuff is a hallucination that represents the slow degradation of childhood wonderment and drive to achieve ones goals as one passes into adult hood(whoo that theory is heavy).... either way I love this direction that the story is taking. this is drama so good I'm pissed (and amused) that it's in a fan fiction. cause whenever I suggest this comic to people they get hesitant about it being based on Pokemon, and when I tell them to read this they never do because I sound crazy.

tldr: good read, I reread it frequently, keep going but don't be self conscious about your pace.