The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Am … Wow. Really?

The last eighteen hours or so has been full of surprises. Please allow me to share some with you.

  • Following up on a pair of stories from Wednesday — going on 50 hours later, the Penny Arcade strip (you know which one) is still up, as of this writing, and Rene Engström has her website back. I particularly wanted to bring the latter to your attention, since I said some uncomplimentary things about the person that snagged the domain (which honestly, had to be at least a little bit in bad faith — nobody else in the world could have a legitimate interest in unless maybe two people of those names were getting married). But although it was set up as an ad farm to milk whatever Google Juju Engström’s comic had, better natures won out and the best possible outcome happened. I’m sorry I thought uncharitably of you, Mr or Ms Temporary Domain Squatter. Kudos for proving me wrong.
  • Also in surprising news, it’s always a a pleasant (if unexpected) occurrence when a new Dresden Codak hits (stop looking at me that way; Latin Art-Throb Aaron Diaz has no illusions about the regularity or frequency of his updates, and quite frankly with RSS it’s a moot point). My complaint is not in getting a new update (the tenth in the Dark Science story arc, over approximately 54 weeks), it’s the inevitable wait to find out more of this new, sinister character’s story.

    Tripping a geek with an armful of papers, that’s high school bully stuff, totally lamesauce, but casually pitching a little old lady with a walker off a skyscraper? That’s bringing the evil A-game, which makes me suspect that Melchior may actually turn out to be one of the good guys in this story. You don’t know what kind of shit that little old lady was up to; she was probably a war criminal or something¹.

  • Those that follow my twitterfeed may have noticed that the good folks at :01 Books gifted me with a copy of Feynman which I devoured last night. Proper review coming early next week, after I have time to thoroughly re-read and digest. Short version: it’s wonderful.
  • It’s really not a surprise anymore when Scott Adams gets on his Idiot Horse and rides for the hills. Nor is it really a surprise that the many, many people willing to call him on his crap have done so with far more logic and consistency than Adams can muster. At the risk of breaking today’s theme, I just really liked how well today’s installment of The Rack utterly — what’s the word I’m looking for? — eviscerated his latest nonsense diatribe. Scott, this is maybe your cue to stop saying sentences.
  • Finishing up with one last bit of surprise. Oh, not that Shaenon Garrity (Radness Queen of the Greater Pacific Time Zone region and Nexus of All Webcomics Realities, West Coast Division²) was putting together a comprehensive, two volume, omnibus edition of Narbonic together; anybody could have guessed that was likely in the cards. No, the surprise was the Kickstarter campaign to fund it; again, not that the funding has (as of this writing) reached more than 50% of goal in 22 hours or so. No, the surprise was the funding/contributor ratio.

    Again, as of this writing, there are 55 contributors for a total of US$5050, or just under US$92 per person; of those 55 people, a grand total of three (3) (III) have opted for the bottom tier of rewards (that would be the US$10 level) and twelve (12) (4 × 3) for the top tier (that would be the $US200 level). Nobody even bothered themselves with the second-highest tier ($US150), and only six contributors opted for the third tier ($US100). I’ve seen people say, Ah, hell, may as we spend twenty instead of ten, what’s ten extra bucks? but I’ve never seen them casually opt in for an extra hundo.

    There’s probably a few different forces at work here — the most popular reward tier is the second lowest (28 of 55 people), but it’s a full US$50, making for a pretty big jump over the bottom; moving up, there’s six more at the $US70 level, meaning that if you’re willing spend more than US$50, there are as many people opting up to US$200 as to the US$51-100 range.

    That fifty buck reward level is the first with a physical reward (signed and sketched copy of the books, which judging from previous Garrity Kickstarts, may actually be slightly less than the eventual price of the volumes once you count shipping), and from there on up the incremental stuff you get seems to be so damn enticing that contributors figure, What the hell, who needs all this plasma anyway?

    Put another way, the differential in stuff to be had between the US$10 and US$50 levels (or $US50 and $US200) is perceived to be more valuable than the incremental cash layout. This is a very cleverly-designed funding campaign that Garrity’s put together.

    Lessons to be learned:

    • Careful placement of the reward levels (at irregular increments) can drive people to the optimal funding level
    • Good stuff at the higher levels can drive a significant fraction of people to the upper funding levels
    • A fanatical reader base don’t hurt

    I’ll be curious to see what funding intervals are like on future Kickstarts; I don’t doubt that what we see here is related to the intermittent reinforcement phenomenon that makes gambling so addictive. There’s a real sense of Just. A Little. MORE. that a clever creator should be able to use to a financial advantage.

¹ Yeah, I’m not buying it either, but you have to admit that a plain-dealing villain spices things up.

² All other divisions: Ryan North. Also, for quantum-webcomical reasons, North and Garrity are never allowed within arm’s reach of each other, lest their respective nexii cascade out of control.

Well, “casually pitching a little old lady with a walker off a skyscraper” when you know there’s a mechanism in place to catch her. That starts sliding back down toward tripping the nerd, but yes, nice to see some plain dealing.

I think the key for the $200 level for the Narbonic collection is the box. I know I considered it but just didn’t see the need to get more than the books themselves (I already have a nice original strip from driving androids to Canada storyline).

[…] a wealth of good information, particularly considering that Garrity may still hold the record for pledge amount/contributor ratio (at the time of that posting, about US$92 per pledger; final ratio just over US$76 each). If […]

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