The webcomics blog about webcomics

Too Many Things To Discuss

How many? How about the announcement that Jim Zub will be translating old videogame IP into new webcomics will have to be disposed of here in the intro, because there’s just that much stuff to talk about. Or that fact that Tom Siddell just dropped the mother of all surprise twists¹ on us after 1002 updates? Naturally, this means the rest of the week will likely be dead. Ah well, thems the breaks in the exciting world of hack webcomics pseudojournalism.

Let’s start with new follow-ups of recent stories:

  • John Allison’s soft-launched subscription drive (referenced here) has, in its first week, attracted some US$6000 in support, with a majority of the activity in the middle ranges. Looks like my suggestion that the Silver tier of support was appropriate was more accurate than I thought.
  • As we saw yesterday, Rich Burlew is up over US$1,000,000 on Kickstarter², but today Dave Kellett reminded us that my flip characterization of temporary millionaire should more correctly have been theoretical millionaire:

    So, to review: Burlew will pay ~10% in Kickstarter/CC fees, and >40% in Federal/State tax. Same thing happened to Stripped. A huge downer.

    Burlew did write an update noting that he’d not calculated all of the costs for the drive correctly and noting the adjustment of certain calculations eleven days ago, and also noted an estimated cost of US$200,000 just on postage to mail out all of the merch (at a time, it should be noted, when he was sitting at about half the monetary total he’s at now, so drag that number upward).

    Moral of the story: anybody expecting that Burlew has joined the financial elites as a result of this campaign, he hasn’t. The general operating fund he’s establishing out of any residual overage doesn’t alter the fact that Kickstarter is, essentially, a per-project funding mechanism that works on a pre-orders model³.

  • Announced just about a month ago, Penny Arcade’s foray into daily editorial reportage on the videogame industry launched in the wee small hours of the morning as The Penny Arcade Report. And talk about launching with a bang, as PAR editor Ben Kuchera both interviews Valve honcho Gabe Newell and tours the Valve offices.

    To be perfectly honest, this probably won’t be part of my daily content trawl, but I imagine I’ll be poking my head in from time to time because it isn’t really possible to keep up on the breadth of popular culture without some passing knowledge of videogaming (and much as the AV Club keeps me up to date on nearly all aspects of popular culture, their VG coverage is mostly limited to reviews rather than trends and analysis).

On to new items:

  • Darryl Cunningham, comics creator/champion of the reality-based approach to life, has an advanced copy in hand of something I think you’re going to want to see: the print version of his non-psychiatric comics4, Science Tales. With any luck, that means the rest of us will have an opportunity to get our own (non-advanced) copies in the near future.
  • You know who in the world of webcomics I like and — more to the point — feel I understand on a near-genetic level, because our shared weltanschauung5 is based on not just one, but two voluntary tribal affiliations6? Angela “Jam” Melick. Despite the name of her autobio comic, she wastes no talent, as no fewer than three major things are coming together right now for her:
    1. Her recent talk at the Vancouver Public Library on comics writing is now up on YouTube
    2. Her second book, Welcome to the Real World7 is perhaps three weeks away from dropping
    3. She’s jumping from a large company to a small one (employee #3), which is a scary and exhilarating time in the life of any young geek8
  • She kicked the ass of first of these three things, and the two that are yet to/about to occur are going to get theirs kicked as well. And joining her in some of that ass-kickery will be fellow British Columbian and webcomicker Sam Logan, who has his own career shift to consider:

    For those who don’t know, aside from drawing Sam and Fuzzy comics for a living, I have also spent the last 8 years designing and illustrating a pair of children’s science magazines called KNOW and YES Mag. Well, I’m sad to say that a few days back, we received word from the company that owns the magazines that they were shutting them both down and letting us all go. Like, immediately.

    So, what am I going to do? Well, I’m going to what I’ve always said I’d do if this happened… go full-time cartoonist and focus entirely on my own stuff. [emphasis original]

    Anybody that reads Sam and Fuzzy regularly will probably suspect, as do I, that in a few years Logan will regard this involuntary9 change as one of the best things that ever happened to him, possibly even matching the day he first tasted Rice Krispies10.

  • Finally (!), may I recommend to your attention this digression on creativity by David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) on the nature of creativity? I believe I may, with a special emphasis on these bits:

    Recently I made something. I thought some people might enjoy it. I posted it on the web. One of the comments I received was, “You have way too much spare time.”

    This is one of the worst things you can say to someone who shares their creativity. For starters, it’s wrong. It’s not merely wrong, it’s incredibly, blatantly wrong. It’s so wrong that it breaks the wrongness barrier, emerges into another universe, and is wrong there also. I wish I had too much spare time! Then I might actually achieve half the stuff I have ideas for and want to do. Creative people never have enough spare time.

    Thankfully, criticism does little to deter people who really want to make stuff for their own sake. Again, I have no solid statistics, but my experience makes me suspect that most creative people fall into this category. They make stuff not for the recognition, but because it’s in their nature to make stuff. They can’t not make stuff. They go around with their heads full of ideas, lamenting the fact that they don’t have nearly enough spare time to make all the cool things they can imagine. [emphasis original]

    I usually call out Morgan-Mar’s longer thoughts because they explore a piece of science or physics in a way I find particularly compelling, but I (to my detriment) forget sometimes that he also has a strong philosophical streak. Despite destroying the universes that one time, his drive to create takes my breath away. Bravo, sir.

¹ I refer, naturally, to the fact that in a place so full of technology as The Court, Jones continues to use a Motorola RAZR. So very 2002, Jones.

² As of this writing, US$1.094 million, with 20 hours to go; he’s also posted a target for how much has to be raised to actually receive a million dollars (however temporarily) after the Kickstarter/Amazon cuts and assuming a 5% rejected credit cards rate: US$1.14million. At present growth rates, he’ll hit that in about six hours.

³ And rather handily, too, seeing as how PayPal rules basically prohibit that model.

4 Which already had their own print collection, Psychiatric Tales.

5 Look it up.

6 Webcomics and engineering, a select confraternity also inhabited by Kean Soo; if we ever touch the rings worn on the small fingers of our working hands, we gain absolutely nothing because engineers don’t friggin’ need superpowers to get shit done, we do it because it needs doing and that need is like crack to us.

7 My thoughts on her first book, We Are The Engineers, may be found here.

8 I did a couple years as employee #8 at a small tech firm, which is slightly less jarring as there’s more people to learn from before you have to fly on your own.

9 In the sense that its timing was imposed rather than chosen.

10 No kidding, dude eats Rice Krispies every day of his life. Also, I believe this is the first time that I’ve broken into double-digit footnotes.

Re Morgan-Mar’s essay: I was once emailed the comment on something I’d put up on my fanfiction website, “You need a life.” I wrote back and described my life. The commenter apologized for his off-the-cuff remark pretty abjectly. Try that the next time it happens to you, gang.

The tax angle on Burlew’s Kickstarter is baloney. I’m a complete layman, but even I know corporations pay income taxes on net income – legitimate business expenses (printing the books, for example, and shipping them) are completely deductable.

I don’t think he’s pocketing a big chunk of this – at best, he gets some nice income security and GITP will have inventory for some time to come, and will then pay full taxes on the (profitable) sale of that inventory – but the reason is the business expenses, not the taxes.

Re: John Allison’s subscription drive, and
Looks like my suggestion that the Silver tier of support was appropriate was more accurate than I thought.
Maybe, and maybe there was more than one subscriber who read your column and was influenced thereby. I certainly was.

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