The webcomics blog about webcomics


It’s a time of landmarks and new beginnings.

  • Yesterday marked ten years since a fit of annoyance resulted in a an impromptu charity drive that then turned into a repeatable event, a worldwide effort, and a year-round process. The eleventh iteration of Child’s Play is at US$2.5 million dollars and counting which means given the efforts of prior years, the cumulative effect since Mike and Jerry’s decided that radio jock was getting all up in their business is now over US$20 million. The big dinner auction hits in ten days and in advance of that event I’m giving it 50/50 odds that they hit US$25M cumulative by the time 2013 ends.
  • On the far side of the longevity divide is a webcomic that launched today, which you are going to want to read. We’ve spoken before of Jeff Smith, indie comics mastercrafter and perhaps nicest guy in the world. We know that BONE and RASL are as different (and excellent!) as two creator-owned comics projects could be and still come from the same mind and hands. We know that Tüki Save The Humans will absolutely be the worthy next step in Smith’s career trajectory, and that today’s prelude and first page are just the start of a ride where none of us can predict the twists and turns.

    On the logistics side, Smith’s wife and publisher, Vijaya Iyer, told me back at SDCC that the plan is to have multiple months worth of updates ready to post at launch, so that Smith’s schedule has plenty of buffer to withstand interruptions and emergencies. Tüki will update MWF for eight weeks to make up a major story arc (or “season”), with downtime between seasons to build up the buffer again.

    Three a week for eight weeks is 24 pages — or about the length of a comic book¹ — which suggests a beginning-middle-end to a story in that period of time unless Smith is feeling really evil and makes us wait out a cliffhanger. The plan right now is for Season Two to start in mid-April 2014, giving Smith time to work on all sorts of projects in and around Tüki, which means more Jeff Smith in general. All right-thinking people should be ready to approve of this plan, along with the thought that an announced start date for Season Two means it’s likely done or nearly so.

    Make no mistake: this is a big shift for Smith, Iyer, and their company, Cartoon Books — they’ve alternately been indie comics publishers, trade publishers, and owners of IP reprinted by major publishing concerns³, but they’ve always been exchanging story for upfront money. Giving away comics and looking to make money on the back end involves a leap of faith that they can still make a living; once Tüki starts producing merch, do remember that fact, please.

¹ Anybody complaining that Smith should be able to crank out two dozen pages quicker than that should remember that a big part of the difference in the production schedules of BONE and RASL is that the former was all made up in his head², while the latter involved research.

Smith spent a long damn time researching Nikola Tesla, weird physics, and the southwestern desert so that he could get the details right in RASL; with a topic as broad and deep as human migration out Africa, he is without doubt buried deep in continental drift, paleobotany, physical anthropology, primatology, climatology, and likely a dozen other -ologies. Look for the sources of that research to be listed here once he’s got a free moment.

² Granted, there were plenty of influences, and he took a side trip to Nepal to get visual inspirations for some of the architecture and cultural designs of the third arc of BONE. My point is he didn’t have to spend months reading up on subspecies of dragon or the organizational structure of stupid, stupid rat creature tribes.

³ Sometimes more than once. The only thing smarter than Scholastic deciding to reprint the entirety of BONE in trades aimed at the YA market was to reprint it again with Steve Hamaker’s colors added to Smith’s B&W art.

RSS feed for comments on this post.