The webcomics blog about webcomics


As noted last week, A Softer World launched a Kickstarter campaign and released their 999th update, leaving everybody (or at least me) wondering what Emily and Joey would cook up for strip #1000.

Wonder no more.

What initially appeared (to me, at least) as a double-size update has been growing over the past few hours:

We are updating the 1000th comic all day! It’s like a story! A whole big STORY! *passes out* PS KICKSTARTER

As of this writing, it’s eleven rows tall, and each time another strip is added the alt-text changes with it. I suspect that there may be meaning — even a parallel story — there, all those yellow pop-ups will be lost in time, like tears in rain

  • There’s been a foofaraw in the writerly corners of blogistan for a couple of days, as a posting credited to the VP of the Horror Writers Association (and on the HWA Los Angeles chapter blog) purported to divide the world into professional writers and — gasp! — hobbyists, and succeeded mostly in pissing off a great number of professional writers. As is often the case, I find the John Scalzi (who is not the only writer I follow that scored only 1/10 on the quiz, far below the 8/10 necessary for validation) may have put it best:

    Here’s the actual quiz for knowing whether you are a pro writer or not:

    1. Are you getting paid to write?

    If the answer here is “yes,” then congratulations, you’re a professional writer!

    Okay, that’s Scalzi in snippy mode; he made an even better point a bit further down:

    The problem with [HWA VP’s]² quiz is that it confuses process for end result. Her quiz is about process, and presumably her process — what she thinks is necessary for one to do in order to produce the work that create the end result of making money as a writer. But process isn’t end result, otherwise in this case I wouldn’t be a professional writer, which I clearly and obviously am.

    Confusing process and result here is not a good thing. It confuses writers who are hungry to know what “being professional” means. The things [HWA VP] describes can lead to being a pro writer, but it’s not the only path, or a guaranteed one, not by a long shot. In this respect this quiz defeats its own purpose — it offers no indication about whether one actually is a professional writer, only whether one has jumped through the process hoops that one single writer believes are important to become a pro. [emphasis original]

    This thought of process vs status has been on my mind a fair bit; I don’t think that I’m letting any cats out of any bags to say that Brad Guigar asked me to do a first read on The Webcomics Handbook³, and I find it suffused with a tone of Topic A: Okay, here’s how I do it, and this works for me; you may find a variation on this that works better, or a way that’s completely different and that’s cool. What matters is what you produce. and how few absolutes there are. Maybe Guigar should send a copy care of the HWA.

  • Speaking of what you produce, readers may recall that international mystery man Eben Burgoon of Eben 07 launched a Kickstart for a side project called B-Squad back in December, one which didn’t fund very well, and was ultimately unsuccessful. Like others before him, Burgoon has opted to resubmit the B-Squad, a technique that is rarely successful.4

    Unlike those others before him, Burgoon is capable of learning from his mistakes: he’s redone his project scope (reducing a US$8000 goal to US$3000), tinkered with his stretch goals, and borrowed successful ideas from other projects (case in point: challenge coins). As a result, he’s much more likely to succeed the second time around.

    In a domain where success is too often assumed to be inevitable, it’s natural for Kickstart campaign owners to look towards successes as things to emulate. These might be your own previous projects (such as Bill Barnes, Paul Southworth, and Jeff Zugale funding the second Not Invented here collection), or they may rely on accumulated name recognition and goodwill (say, Tavis Maiden taking a boost from Strip Search to launch a new strip, much like his fellow Artists have done). It’s rare to see somebody adjust approaches after a stumble rather than just have a hissy fit5 about it. Here’s hoping that Burgoon is the start of a trend.

¹ Rutger Hauer is the man.

² I’ve taken the name because it’s pretty obvious in the posting, and because I suspect that the VP in question is taking a fair amount of shit today for the pretty significant overreach in the original article. I just don’t feel like piling on right now, as I’m presuming that the mistake was one of execution and not intent. Should reports come about that no, the execution matched the intent that that’s actually the viewpoint being promulgated, I may reconsider this notion.

³ Spoiler alert: it’s very good.

4 No names, but seriously I’ve seen Kickstarts that failed to raise even ten bucks resubmitted with nothing changed expecting a different result.

5 Again, no names, but remember the guy whose project failed to fund and he changed the video into an obscenity-laden screed about how the world didn’t deserve his genius ideas? That was great.

I scored something like 9/10. Do I get to call myself a professional writer? :)

I think part of the problem here is that “professional” has two meanings; one is making money off of doing it, preferably enough to live off of, and the other is acting professional. Granted, the HWA VP isn’t really testing the latter definition either, but rather how much work goes into one’s writing, how much it feels like an actual job.

It reminds me of the answer I’d give to the timeless question “Where do you get your ideas?” – if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be doing this. If you’re structuring your entire life around your writing and spending as much time writing as possible in the way the HWA VP describes, and you find yourself going up against people who are as much if not more talented producing content as good if not better than yours without structuring their entire lives around writing, methinks you’re the one in the wrong field. That, or you’re not making close to the most out of your time.

I once saw a comics Kickstarter about to end with $0, felt bad, and pledged $100 just so the dude wouldn’t end with zero. Now, he resubmits the exact same kickstarter every few months, with nothing changed except for dropping the goal down to 100 dollars and he always e-mails me to see if I want to pledge again.

[…] first, as yesterday during the hourly updates of A Softer World #1000 I spoke of alt-text disappearing as each new row […]

Thanks for putting me in the column of the non-hissy fitters. You’re dead on in the assessment of my mood and mind heading into the do-over. I really fundamentally looked over the kickstarter last time and rethought my plan of attack. The main thing – hire Lauren as the artist and do so with my own pocket money so that my goal was far more reachable. She’s an incredible talent, deserves to be paid for her hard work, and if I am going to ask the internet for money to help see this work to it’s end – I sure as hell better pony up too. So I did and I got amazing work from her, B-Squad looks great, and we’re kicking ass with B-Squad funding at 70% after a week. I’m proud of our progress so far and definitely feel like I have learned a lot about Kickstarter – but most of all, I’m just humbled that people still care and, like me, didn’t give up after I false start.

[…] Comments, I find it for somewhat obvious reasons useful to go through those at this site. The post from Tuesday of this week attracted some comments that caught my eye, not only for their length, but for the mention of something that’s been […]

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