The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Art Of Swag

You know that dark weight of disappointment that forms in your tummy when someone you really admire does something ridiculously irritating and when it comes time to call them on it you actually end up feeling worse about that than what they did in the first place? Give me a clear and present enemy any day and I can face it with bravado. That being said, let’s talk a little bit about what happens when you purchase products from your favorite Webcomics only to find the process of getting said items to be a demoralizing and strained experience.

Webcomics have found a very wealthy pocket to pick from in regards to merchandise. Swag has been made especially popular by quirky t-shirts labeled with inside jokes that only another reader would get. Selling swag has made it possible for some artists to quit their full time jobs and work on their comic full time. For many popular comics, they don’t even handle the process of selling swag anymore because it’s so daunting.

So two months ago I purchased a poster from one of my favorite comics, one I’d read since the archives were in double digits. Two months, $20 dollars later, weeks of silence, a handful of emails and I still don’t have the poster. My confidence is waning while my disappointment grows. I’m curious now about how comic creators deal with the art side and the business side of what they do, and is mixing the two worth it in the end? It’s a subject I plan to explore in depth in the very near future. I like the comic and respect the creator too much to be a vile consumer whore and rip it to shreds until I feel vindicated. However, I do feel it is an important subject to bring more attention to.

We want to be loyal readers and support our artists so that they can continue to bring us what we love and continue to enjoy doing what they do. I hold out hope that most people have very good experiences, and that mine is the exception.

We all do our best, but you know… once we put this stuff in the mail it is out of our hands. If something goes missing along the way, we have no way of knowing about it unless the buyer emails us.

And believe me, things do go missing… I’ve had to mail out several replacement books, and the children’s magazine I work for mails out dozens of replacement issues every month.

Now, if you waited 2 months and then only emailed them about it yesterday, that really isn’t there fault. They can’t help you until they know you need help, you know? But if you’ve been emailing a cartoonist for weeks without ever getting a response, then something is definitely wrong.

Hey Sommer, I can’t address the “email silence” issue right now because I don’t have an answer for that (could be my spam filter, could be I just fucked up and missed your emails). But another thing to take into account is forces beyond our control- PayPal has been dropping orders on us lately which has obviously been a problem we’re still struggling with. In any case, drop me a line with your Name/Address/What you ordered/etc. and I will get that poster out to you ASAP. My apologies for the delays.

An update: I tracked down your order, Sommer. It was dropped by PayPal, meaning we didn’t get notification that it was there until I manually searched for your name in my history. It’ll go out in the mail tomorrow.

I ordered an Achewood shirt about three years ago, and I’m still waiting for it.

Most people do not realize that behind every great webcomic artist there is usually an assistant slaving away. In this case, I am the slave of merchandise for QC. Jeph is occupied by the comic and all that it entails, so I process, order and ship all merchandise, do my best to make sure that all emails are answered promptly and that nothing goes horribly wrong. If I go on a trip or get sick, things are put on hold. Anyone want to be my assistant?

I’m sorry I used you as an example Jeph! It’s more of a comment on the whole experience of buying from comics and the business side of it. I understand things happen. I’m going to do some business-topic articles and this kicked off my interest in it.

Now you see, I just really wanted my poster! And I’ll go to any lengths to get it!

Cristi- If I had a head for business I’d start up a company that catered administrative assistant help to webcomic creators and others in need of slavish secretaries. We’d type and file and process and say very nice things over the phone. The behind the scenes man. We’d be lucrative and well dressed.

I’ve been much, much worse than Jeph in years past! And I would definitely be Sommer’s customer.

Up until about… yesterday, I had my brother handling my shirt orders. And then a customer/reader emailed him saying that the shirt they got had a spot on it, and asked what they should do about it. And he replied “Wash it?”

I’ve taken over the orders for my store now.

We’d type and file and process and say very nice things over the phone.

I did that for a couple of years.

There’s no money in it.

Sommer, may I just say I like how your articles stretch on into the comments section, when you don’t respond only to defend your standpoint but you add more on-topic thoughts!

And off topic, Jeff, it all just depends on the number. There is a goldmine in discussing stained garments over the phone.

once i bought a 3 pack of shirts from dino comics, and the distribution company messed up my order TWICE, it took like 3-4 months to get it right, and i still never received my third t-shirt. but ryan north was really nice about it when i emailed him and let me have the ones i did get for free, so i forgave him. not like it was even really his fault anyway.

Do you all see the problems caused by getting the comics for free?!! DO YOU SEEEEE?

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