The webcomics blog about webcomics

What I Love About This Community

Webcomics is a relatively small group of people trying their best to live a creative life, most of whom will spend a significant time flirting with poverty (or at least under-earning compared to their age cohort); this is a situation that is tailor-made for adopting a zero sum game mentality that says If I can undermine that guy over there, keep him from making a couple sales, maybe I can get his booth space at SuperMegaConOrama. Maybe that will make him give up and go back to the day job. Maybe I can sweep him his audience then and by this time next year I won’t have as much trouble making rent.

And yet that doesn’t happen. Every day, I see acts small (What was the name of that Photoshop brush you used? Did you know you can do this, it saves me a mountain of time. Hey everybody, I just discovered this great new comic, go check it out!) to huge (I will pay my artists bonuses above what I’ve already paid them. Here is what I’ve learned about making it as a creator, so you don’t have to learn the lessons over a decade like I did.) to potentially life-changing (I will fund scholarships for my future competition.) fly around the webcomicsosphere like it ain’t no thang. As a rule, creators keep an eye out for each other and want everybody to succeed.

And sometimes, that out-kept eye requires a bit of digging so as to prevent colleagues from falling into a hole. Enter David Malki !, webcomicker, filmmaker, pilot, firearms technician, woodworker, game creator, author, editor, darling of the Maker community, podcaster, and (in context of today’s discussion) financial canary in the coalmine:

This has bugged me for a long time. I’ve received Bank of America merchant-service promotions in the mail; I’ve gotten phone calls about it; and I’ve even had firsthand experience dealing with it, on behalf of other businesses.

So, this is a small-business public service announcement! Don’t believe that guarantee. Or anything, really. Don’t believe anything, ever. [emphasis original]

You really want to follow that link, if you’ve ever thought I need to get an account to take credit cards for my creative business; Malki ! has systematically taken apart the offer made by (in this case) Bank of America (I’m sure other large banks offer similarly bad arrangements) for a merchant charge account and a lease on a credit card swiper. Short version: Sign up with them and you will pay far more than you would with, say, Square, and will be locked into an equipment lease for years, racking up thousands of dollars of excess fees and costs, with little to no recourse to get out. This is honestly the sort of warning that could keep somebody from failing in an on-the-edge business (or make failure less painful and protracted). It’s not something that he ever had to share once he’d satisfied himself as to the relative merits of BoA’s offer¹; that he did share it was an act of generosity and community that should be acknowledged.

And seriously — go read it and then understand that behind every offer that a powerful oliogarchic company makes to you, there lives the potential for this kind of screw-job. Read the contract, understand the terms, get the assurances from the smiling, slick sales-type in writing and notarized. As was observed on this page seven years and a day ago:

I was once challenged for saying, [A]ll contracts are inherently about ensuring that — if needed — you can cut the other guy’s heart out and he’s legally obligated to provide the blade.

Don’t be on the receiving end of that blade.

Spam of the day:


In case you were wondering, the string of katakana just says “brandsecret” again. But bonus points for sending me spam with a link to, and I quote, Which is apparently a legit site that ran a Kickstarter a couple years back. Ain’t no way I’m clicking through to see what the deal there is.

¹ Which is to say, you suffer from having too much money and want to give some to a very rich corporation.

RSS feed for comments on this post.