I've tried. I really have. I've made it pretty far writing-wise on the comic, I'm urging myself to cut more corners without sacrificing pacing and character development, but I'm just not that good of a writer to condense the material further. I curse myself for this because the artist just doesn't want to cooperate anymore. I'm on the verge of just taking up the art and doing the comic myself, but I just don't have the skills she has in either consistent line work or shading and highlighting. And I hate everything I draw, so it'd take forever to put anything out. Although, at this point, maybe crap quality's enough.
But I get it. She doesn't want to spend too much time on a silly fan comic when she could be making some original content. She's an artist, that's her main source of income. She takes commissions fairly often and has her job as lead artist for Ohio's TrotCon. Does seem unfair to do lots of work for no pay. I made the incorrect assumption that this was an important project for her, this was a piece of our relationship that we built up for five straight years. I believed that that was enough. It isn't, and though it might have been at the beginning, the novelty's worn off. I've deluded myself otherwise.
So, my understanding now is this: if I work on another comic, essentially doing the same work I've put into Duality, she'll consider continuing. I'm tired of fighting it, and I'm tired of feeling like I'm forcing her to essentially do slave work. We have a few ideas, but are currently focusing on something dark comedy-ish. As of early April 2014, we've had a title made, and now I'm doing my best to work on it on my spare time. Design work is still in its beginning, but the story arc seems to have been set. She wants to keep anything design-wise secret, but I think I can spoil the goshdarn title:
Sanity Within Dystopia
It's about a cat with a man's brain and a boy with a cat's brain. That's about all I can say without fear of being flayed. Ayla's highly more restrictive of work-in-progress material than I am, and this is her story. Sort of. Except I'm writing it. I just thought of that as I typed that sentence. Well, it's her concept, in any case. As soon as I finish this Journal, I'm thinking of seeing what I can do in terms of a deviantART account or something. Maybe other places. I don't know.
As for Duality... this project –which, even when we started, we knew it would be a hefty thing– just seems like it'll be floating around for a long time, updated infrequently and for years beyond what either of us wanted or expected. But it'll be worked on. She knows this means a lot to me, and it used to mean a lot to her as well. She can't give up on it, right? I'm just tired of pushing for a quicker turnout. There really seems to be no point to it other than a lot of arguing. And as much as I care for this silly little comic, it's not worth straining our relationship.
I give up.