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Writing and drawing a regular Web Comic is much more work than most people would suppose; even on a once-a-week schedule it can be difficult to keep up, and five to seven days a week is enough to drive an author away from the series entirely. Part of the difficulty comes from the immediacy of the medium: a webcomic can be, and often is, drawn the same day it gets loaded to the site, and a slip in timing can easily result in a strip getting delayed... sometimes for weeks.
To prevent this, assiduous webcomic artists will try to draw several days or even weeks worth of strips ahead of time, posting them according to the schedule, while continuing to draw the later ones apace. As any computer science student that has already studied the producer-customer problem should know, this provides a buffer against delays, allowing the artist to catch up on late work without the posting schedule being disrupted.
Maintaining a buffer is a lot of work, and some authors find the wait between drawing the comic and the readers' responses to be unbearable. However, such work will usually pay off, as most fans are much happier when the series posts regularly. All in all, a buffer is generally agreed to save more trouble than it causes.
Pity so few comic artists manage it, though.
Ironically, Irregular Webcomic faces different problems. The author tries to maintain such a large Strip Buffer, that he often fails to plan for holiday or other event related comics. Other comics may have similar issues with topicality; the creators of Penny Arcade have said that they don't use a buffer out of a desire to be able to respond to current events in video games.
However, even the special event problem is surmountable (at least for comics that don't try to be topical). For several years Schlock Mercenary managed to do something special for Halloween each year, and even spent Schlocktober leading up to it. (Of course, it helps that Schlock Mercenary uses dates as filenames, whereas Irregular Webcomic! uses serial numbers.