Congratulations to everyone who voted for Ray to have a light blue shirt! For those curious, light green also tied for first place thanks to some unofficial votes on social media, but since more active Patrons backed light blue, I decided to use that one.
I had a hard time deciding what to do for this year's panel. With how dramatic the last few years have been, it was easy to figure out how to capture them in this annual tradition. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that, rather than focus on the spirit of the year, I would take the opportunity to set up for future years by finally bringing Chris to the party.
The very first New Years strip came out before Chris joined the cast. I always consider these comics to be a barometer of how the series changes, and I figured I'd use the original friend group each time to set a baseline for comparison. At this point, however, Chris has been a big part of their circle for over 200 strips, and it started to really bother me that he wasn't at these parties. I'm sure they'd invite him but he couldn't make it for some reason.
Anyway, Chris is now a permanent part of the New Years comics. Happy New Year to all of you, and here's to expanding friends circles!
Rock on, guys, and never stop drawing.