The webcomics blog about webcomics

Improvement, Sort Of

So that was fast. Tapa* backpedaled with great speed, although I have to say that their rationale for the change doesn’t pass the smell test:

The purpose of the Right of First Refusal is not to take any rights away or steal your content. The purpose is to help you. We’ve witnessed multiple creators on Tapas accept unfair, uncompetitive deals and sign away their rights for far less than their work is worth. Creators who should have been paid 10x what they were offered agreeing to terrible deals because they either did not know their market value or did not have any competing offers.

We have connections in traditional publishing, merchandising, tv, and film. Our intention is to work with creators to bring additional offers to the table, and to create competition in the market so individuals get the best deal possible.

Go back and read that again, and then explain to me why a completely benevolent — caretaking, even! — change to the TOS was put through without any explanation, highlighting, or prior notice. Not buying it. So they put their TOS back to what it was before the change — we think; they’ve excluded that page from Internet Archive gathering, so there’s no independent way to confirm — but that in and of itself reveals a weakness. As always, one should listen to George

[long thread prior to this point … go read it]
They make an offer, if it doesn’t involve 6+ figures per exploitation right, decline. Then you’re in the clear. Kind of.

“Kind of” because Tapas can, at any time, change the ToS again and screw you over. You consent to that as item 2 in the ToS. [emphasis mine]

Yep, it’s right there in the TOS:

Although we will attempt to notify you when major changes are made to these Terms of Service, you should periodically review the most up to date version (found at https://tapas.io/tos). Tapas Media may, in its sole discretion, modify or revise these Terms of Service at any time. Modifications and revisions will take effect 5 days after they have been posted. Nothing in these Terms of Service shall be deemed to confer any third party rights. [emphasis mine]

Unilaterally creating a new claim on your IP seems like a major change, and to my eye Tapa* didn’t make any kind of effort to notify anybody, nor are they committing to any such notification in the future. Want to get back something like a measure of trust, Tapa*? Unilaterally change the TOS one mo’ gin to amend item 2 for the last time under the current rules.

Hold yourself to a requirement of proper notification and with a decent interval before changes take effect (30 days, minimum), and maybe you won’t get the stinkeye from the community any more. Short of that, you’re screwed as far as any creators who are serious about earning from their creations are concerned.

But, that ain’t happening, I don’t think, and Tapa* will pay the price. Nothing like finishing the week on a positive note. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m told that my copies of Wasted Talent books 4 and 5 have arrived, and I need to affix some bookplates. If you’re at VanCAF this weekend and see Angela Melick, toss her the engineer’s gang sign for me.


Spam of the day:

Record Thieves Around Your Office Wirelessly

Only thief around my office has four legs, a pointy nose and long tail, and sleeps with his eyes open until I’m sufficiently distracted that he can strike with silent quickness. Don’t think I need wireless capability to determine who stole my lunch that one time.

This Day … This Day

Where to start? With the hotel that didn’t supply all of the lightbulbs it should have, more than one towel, and a working phone? With the gig assignment that sent me to the wrong office? With my laptop, which decided that it’s still the ’90s and wifi is not a thing? With my voice, which is rapidly decreasing? I think that KB “Otter” Spangler hit the nail on the head re: today earlier this morning. So despite some genuinely encouraging news, I’ve only got enough bandwidth (mental and TCP/IP) to go brief. As it so happens, we’re heading to Kickstarter and staying there today.

  • Firstly, followup on Letters From Lucardo (cf: here), which hit goal in half a day and is now sitting at 150% about two days in. Not bad for a largely-unknown Scandinavian creator making a first book, but then again Iron Circus has a reputation of delivering quality smut on time. so there’s that. The Fleen Funding Factor (Mark II) predicts Lucardo will finish up at US$45K +/- $9K, with a personal expectation that it’ll go up in subsequent volumes.
  • Secondly, Tessa Stone (who partnered with Ananth Hirsch on Buzz! and Is This What You Wanted, has launched a Kickstarter for the first volume of her own webcomic, Not Drunk Enough. The semimythical George is shepherding the project, so full confidence that things will run properly. It’s not quite old enough for the FFF mk2, but it is at 58% of its US$17.5K goal, so that’s okay.
  • Lastly, a dream (?) team of creators/professional reprobates is seeking to raise US$69,420¹ to release a pay-what-you-can Full Motion Video game based on the work of Dr Chuck Tingle. All buckaroos and others opposed to demonic forces are encouraged to investigate >deep breath< Kickstarted In The Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure for the opportunity to spread a little joy to people whose lives are sorely lacking in (quoting now) Unicorn Butt Cops, the unexpected juxtaposition of disparate concepts (for instance: pirate, ghost, and bigfoot), and the absurd treated as the mundane. With hot, hot, butts (butts technically optional):

    The very nature of the Tingleverse is The Rawest of Graphic Sensualities, but players who aren’t down with visual depictions of sexual content needn’t fear. While we’re working with video and real actors (the cast will most certainly SURPRISE and AMAZE you), there won’t be explicit footage of people taking a trip to bonetown. Our salacious scenes are literary in nature and read aloud by talented performers, intended to pound the most sexual of your organs … Your imagination.

    We’re also including a Kitten Mode, where sexual situations will be replaced by footage of kittens playing. If you wish, you may also engage Kitten Mode on its own, just to watch some kittens playing, because why not.

    Or, in case you are called to explain the project in an elevator pitch-style quick sentence, the developers have provided one for you: Our exquisitely handcrafted smut puts the anal in artisanal.

    No stretch goals (overfunding will just result in a prettier game), but higher reward tiers will allow the backer to be involved in the game². Go, give, and may whatever spiritual or supernatural power you believe in recognize your virtue and buckaroo nature³.


Spam of the day:

D? you care about dental hygiene?

Yes. That’s why I go to the dentist, who takes care of my teeth. Oh, sorry, was this not a rhetorical question?

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¹ An amount also known as one sexweed.

² Obligatory disclaimer: this may involve visual or verbal depictions of the backer being subjected to literary poundings in heart, brain, AND butt.

³ Buckarooness? Buckarooality?

So, Who’s Applying For SouthxSouth Lawn?

Having apparently enjoyed his time at SXSW, President Obama has decided to throw his own festival on Monday, 3 October; I’m guessing that webcomics could fit neatly into the Interactive track, but you’ve only got until 10 September (that’s a week from tomorrow) at 5:00pm EDT to get your application in. I know there’s people in our community that have been to Austin, so who’s going to DC?

  • My suggestion: get somebody out there to talk about Kickstarter/crowdfunding (George, Spike), and be sure to bring up KC Green’s This Is Fine plush which finished up today just under US$455K, or 13 times funded. Nicely done, KC, and good luck Make That Thing getting some 14,000 plushes to more than 12,700 backers.
  • Second suggestion: just put Onstad on stage talking about how to write a bunch of blogs in different voices, three of which updated today, just in time for the long weekend, hooray!

And that’s it — long weekend comin, which I will happen to spend on EMT duty, with tropical storm/hurricane Hermine heading this way. Stay dry, I’ll see you next week.


Spam of the day:

Congrats! Your FREE Starbucks Samples are Ready

I don’t drink coffee. I think you meant to send this to Rich Stevens. Try again.

Dr Nootropic — “Smart Drug” discovered: proven to double IQ and memory-retention

What did I just say? Rich is over thataway, dammit.

Being A Chronicle Of The End Times

Sunday is always a weird day at San Diego Comic Con; the crowd is trying to decide on last minute purchases, the vendors can see the end coming but then have to do tear-down (and here’s a little trade secret for you — the larger booths can’t start until the carpet’s taken up, and there’s a lot of carpet) and throw everything on pallets. The good news is that by the time you’re done, there’s not much of a line at any of the restaurants. The best news is that the day earlier Eben Burgoon of Eben07 and B-Squad¹ gifted me a bottle of the honey blonde ale that was brewed to tie in with the publication of B-Squad volume 2 which was opened approximately 12 seconds after the show ended and sustained the crew of several booths through teardown. It was pretty tasty!

But before you get to teardown (and I swear, some year somebody’s going to get caught in the giant layers of clingfilm used to hold everything together on the pallet; I swear it almost happened to me twice) there’s still a mostly-full day of the show. I managed to see the YA panel, which was held in a large room but attracted a surprisingly — disappointingly, actually — small crowd, considering the talent on the riser (from left): Sierra Hahn moderating; Hope Larson; Raina Telgemeier; Cecil Castellucci, James Dashner, and Brenden Fletcher.

Bios: Hahn is senior editor at BOOM! (a somewhat recent transplant from Dark Horse, and not responsible for the crappy contracts they offer; creators that I speak to about BOOM! generally have good things to say about the editorial side); Larson and Telgemeier should need no introduction if you read this page; Castellucci wrote for DC’s now-dead Minx line for YA girls, and more recently a Star Wars tie-in about Leia and Shade, The Changing Girl for Vertigo; Dashner doesn’t write comics (yet), but is the author of the wildly popular Maze Runner series (now a motion picture franchise) as well as other YA book series; Fletcher is the cowriter of Gotham Academy and the revived Batgirl.

A quick word of praise for Hahn here as we begin; the panel could have easily turned into a slog where the moderator throws out a question and each panelist answers it; rinse; repeat. But midway through the first period of questioning, Castellucci asked a question of her fellow panelists and Hahn backed the heck off, letting the conversation take on its own life. After that, about three times she threw out new feeder questions and stood back to let them develop organically; it’s a very difficult thing to moderate with a light hand, I could see that Hahn had prepared a lot of questions and she very smartly adapted to the situation. It was the best moderating job I saw all week.

That initial question was about what it is in YA that unique attracts readers, which became a discussion of influences. Larson’s first experiences with comics were Tintin, Asterix, and other adventure stories, and Compass South is a love letter to the genre; Telgemeier has shifted away from autobio/realism with Ghosts, citing Miyazaki as her biggest influence. Castellucci noted the irony of telling the story of a YA character in Shade within the structure of mature-readers imprint, contrasting with her next project (a girl in 1932 riding the rails with hobos) and recalling the influence of reading My Cancer Year in high school. Grief is what she gets as something that’s uniquely expressible in comics, saying I write prose, but sometimes there are no words to say what I want, and then I turn to comics.

Dashner’s not written comics, but loves what pictures can add to storytelling, being particularly satisfied with some tie-ins to the movie version of Maze Runner. Fletcher said that he would be cribbing answers from others — Tintin, etc — but that Miyazaki (and in particular, Totoro) changed my life when I was falling down a hole of ’90s dudebro comics. Totoro hit my reset button and I thought that was who I am, that’s the storytelling I was to express when I grow up. He tied that ability to influence a younger reader into the idea that his run on Batgirl was mandated to be written for an audience of 21 – 28 year olds — sex, party times, woo — but at the first con after the first issue came out, a 10 year old girl dressed as Batgirl came up to get it signed and that was it: the creative team bucked their instructions and We aged it down. Gotham Academy was always in the space for my 10 year old niece, but we shifted Batgirl to be closer to that same space.

This was about the point that Castellucci shifted the conversation, asking what appealed to the others about YA. She found it compelling because the characters are raw and figuring out who they are, and that was what she always wanted to write. Larson noted it’s what comes most natural to her, and doesn’t understand why YA is looked down on; eople that look down on YA suck at writing it, she opined. Dashner jumped in to tell the story of a friend who was told by a Very Important Person In Publishing that her YA writing was really good, so she might now be good enough to write for adults.

Telgemeier held forth on the idea that YA as a category didn’t really exist when she was growing up, that you went from Baby Sitters Club straight to VC Andrews (or possibly Stephen King); her introduction to the idea of YA was discovering Lynda Barry at the age of 12. There followed a general discussion of what counts as YA and why, despite the fact that good YA has always had a significant older readership (and 60%+ of the market is women over the age of 30), the term all ages isn’t helpful. All ages is code for inoffensive, as Larson pointed out. But at the same time, comics publishers don’t always know what to do with it. Fletcher related how Gotham Academy was ignored in the direct market because it had two teen girls on the cover so they figured it was for kids. Librarians asked him where to shelve it — in the children’s section, or teen/YA?

Hahn fed that point by noting that libraries and bookstores will have to have a YA shelving concept so you don’t put Vertigo books next to those appropriate for kids. Fletcher lamented that Barnes & Noble has Gotham Academy next to Batman (alphabetically, wedged in by Gotham Central, which, yeesh, serious disconnect), but Lumberjanes is in YA, so where will the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover go?

Castellucci wonders if people who want their comic books not just for kids, dammit! are willfully ignoring the YA section and how that might prevent people from picking up a book they might like. Larson wryly observed that those readers won’t pick up a book with a non-powered teen girl on the cover anyway, so there’s no harm in putting it in a YA section. Dashner wasn’t sure — he said that his books, and others like the Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Divergent series, and plenty others wouldn’t sell nearly as well without adult readers. It’s also the case that several of those series were issued with serious, adult-style covers to provide the ability for grownups to read them in stealth mode.

There’s always a point in a panel like this where the discussion turns to the value of comics in getting kids to read and it followed the usual path, but there was an observation from Catellucci I hadn’t heard before. She works as a literacy volunteer in LA public schools and started a reading club. One girl brought in Larson’s graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time and spent all year on it. She loved that book, and later when Castellucci showed a page from Mercury her hand shot up and she asked Is that Hope Larson? It hadn’t occurred to her the idea of having a favorite author who does different kinds of stories. She proselytized that book, shared it with all her friends, and then wanted to make comics herself. Kids that love comics make and share comics, which is the crux of Catellucci’s point. There’s an enthusiasm that even the most eager readers of prose don’t have.

(This was followed by Fletcher telling how his 10 year old niece fell in love with Gotham Academy, which he basically wrote for her. She shares them, she begged to go to a comics creation camp that was aimed at older kids, and on a visit she gave him a copy her first comic. That destroyed me. She’s doing fanart of my characters and I burst into tears.)

The other thing that usually comes up in YA discussions is deciding what’s appropriate for inclusion, and again there were a pair of unique points I hadn’t heard before. Castellucci pointed out you could aim a comic for a particular age (say, 10), and there are kids that age reading far above that level, and kids reading far below; reading ability really spreads out in age cohorts, but they may all be reading the same comic, so finding a way to keep language, sex, or violence “age appropriate” is almost impossible.

Telgemeier pointed out that comics are a challenge in that showing something has more impact than writing about it, even for the same audience; she’s so far been unable to get any character having a period into her books (all of which star teenage girls), but thinks it might be possible soon. Fletcher pointed out the advantage to comics is you can treat danger in different ways; Batgirl might be beating people up, but the Gotham Academy kids are more likely to run until they’re in a kind of environmental danger (collapsing floor, possibility of a fall, etc). In Batgirl there’s an acknowledgment that things like drinking or sex exist, but since it’s aged down now, you can cut away without showing. You’re not ignoring it, it’s not imposed, it’s just what feels right.

A short while later, it was time for the Kickstarter panel, which at long last bows to reality and includes on the dias George friggin’ Rohac, along with Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press and Kel McDonald of Sorcery 101, along with Jamie Turner from Kickstarter (from left: Turner, McDonald, George, Nicholson). Interestingly, Turner introduced the panel by noting how many projects they’ve each run: 5 for himself, 9 for McDonald, 6 for Nicholson, and an estimated 50 for George.

The first third or so of the panel was taken up by a sort of Kickstarter 101 which in an ideal world shouldn’t have been necessary, but given the number of people in the audience who had indicated they planned on doing a Kickstart at some point, and who were frantically taking notes and photographing the projection screen, it was wanted by the majority of the viewers. Some numbers, then: comics represent about 4000 of Kickstarter’s 108,000 successful projects, with a funding rate of about 55% (versus 40% for the site as a whole). This means that George himself has run approximately 1.25% of all comics projects in Kickstarter history, yikes.

The most valuable part of the panel was the first thing Turner said: although he titled the panel Kickstarter Secrets Revealed in order to get it approved, there are no secrets. It’s all in the tutorial material that Kickstarter makes available: have an original project, communicate with your backers, have a good video, make sure you can explain what’s compelling, bring an audience with you. Prep before the project, complete with cushion for unexpected situations (McDonald calls it The Screwup Fund and budgets in US$2000; Rohac calls it The Unexpected Situations Fund and allots 12.5% on top of however much he thinks the project will require). Keep close track of expenses, expect postal rates to go up by the time you have to deliver rewards, and as Nicholson emphasized, If you don’t want to think about shipping [in the planning stage], don’t offer physical rewards.

Other rules of thumb:

  • From McDonald: expect to get 1/3 of your total take in the first three days; if that’s not going to get you to goal, re-evaluate what you’re doing and know that you still have time to correct course.
  • From Rohac: Don’t set the goal of the project to do your absolute Platonic ideal of a book; look at one that’s simpler and cheaper, and if you hit funding make the idea version a stretch goal.
  • From Nicholson: Don’t neglect to include both time and expense of shipping from the printer to you — people have been crippled in the past by unexpected multi-month, multiple-thousands-of-dollars delays and expenses.
  • From everybody: the glut of offers you get from companies that want to charge you to promote your Kickstarter will do absolutely nothing for you.

The audience didn’t appear to fully take in the lessons, though. They wanted to know about things like changing SEC rules that allow crowdfunding to be used for investment (Turner: moot point because KS is ideologically opposed to the idea; Rohac: if you think keeping track of shipping is a headache, imagine trying to keep track of who is owed what share of equity in your business), what the benefit of paid promotions/advertising is (Rohac: you will convert so few it’s not worth it; McDonald: you can promote to your audience, who are most likely to support you, for free; Nicholson: does sometimes do Facebook ad buys because Facebook is a donut-stealing mobster), exactly what format the video should be (all: whatever you want, just make one), how much prep to do before launch (all: as much as humanly possible, then some more), and the most effective promotions channels (all: Twitter, existing audience channels). You know, questions the answers to which are embedded in all the previous advice.

The questions weren’t about How do I determine if my audience is large enough to support a project? or What percentage of them will actually give me money?; instead they revealed the still too-common attitude that Kickstarter is a game that can be approached algorithmically, and if you have the cheat codes you will get All The Money. The answer remains what it always has been: hone your craft, grow your audience, make stuff, then crowdfund. You never could do it in reverse, and you won’t be able to in the future. The Magic Money Machine was always a myth.


Creators who gave me books or significantly discounted them at some point during the week because they all rock and are The Best:
Kate Beaton (King Baby), Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts), Jeff Smith (BONE Coda), Dave Kellett (Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M Schulz).

Cosplay was a bit thinner on Sunday, but I did see a pretty impressive Rescue² but the most ambitious cosplay of the entire show was the woman who dressed as the entirety of Middle Earth.

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¹ Tagline: Like Suicide Squad, but funnier.

² In recent Marvel continuity, Pepper Potts has her own Iron Man-style armor, and you can tell from the distinct design of the chest reactor it’s not just a gender-swapped Tony Stark. I have no idea how I know this.

SDCC 2016 Programming, Part Two

Saturday, oh Saturday, the day where hopes go to die in San Diego. Sunday, the day where the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, except for those that have to wait to bring their cars around to the docks for load-out. Before we get to those, let’s make a quick visit to a pair of Fridays.

First, last Friday, C Spike Trotman¹ announced her latest forthcoming publication, this Sarah W Searle is bringing her Sparks from serialization at Filthy Figments {NSFW, depending on your W]. Second, this coming Friday, when Kel McDonald finds out if the second and final Sorcery 101 omnibus funds or not. I’m kind of astonished how many established creators are having trouble making funding on their Kickstarts, and McDonald’s sitting on a projected 97% final funding, so this is literally make or break time.

Okay, onward and conward, and as always, let us know what we overlooked.


Saturday Programming

Once Upon A Time: Teaching Fables, Fairy Tales, And Myths With Comics And Graphic Novels
10:00am — 11:00am, Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

The aforementioned Ms McDonald will be talking about fantastical tales for a library-centric crowd, along with Chris Duffy, Alexis Fajardo, Ben Hatke, and Trina Robbins, with moderator Tracy Edmunds, MA Ed.

Spotlight On Kate Beaton
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 5AB

This will be my first chance to tell Kate Beaton in person how much my niece loves The Princess And The Pony. Hint: a lot.

Comic Book Law School 303: New Revelations
10:30pm — 12:00pm, 30CDE

Part three, which bee-tee-dubs is qualified for continuing education credits for lawyers. This one’s on complex issues of copyright and trademark.

Spotlight On William Gibson
11:30pm — 12:30pm, Room 24ABC

Appropriate, since we seem to be living in one of his cyberpunk dystopias at the moment.

Spotlight On Jeff Smith
12:30pm — 1:30pm, Room 8

Jeff Smith is the opposite of a dystopia. Let’s all go and have some fun and ignore stupid, stupid [fill in horrible person type here]s.

The Kids Comics Revolution
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 29AB

Best panel ever? Emily Carroll, John Patrick Green, Noelle Stevenson, G. Willow Wilson, and Gene Luen Yang.

Spotlight On Noelle Stevenson
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 23ABC

Because she’s a shark, AAAAHHH.

Buckaroo Banzai: Getting The Band Back Together
5:30pm — 6:30pm, Room 8

Holy crap: Perfect Tommy, Pinky Caruthers, Scooter Lindley, and Rugsucker will be on stage together.


Sunday Programming

Historical Comics
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 28DE

Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, and Derf Backderf in conversation with Calvin Reid. Hopefully to contain Nemeses.

YA? Why Not? The Importance Of Teen And Young Adult Comics
1:00pm — 2:0pam, Room 24ABC

Going to be tough to decide where to be this hour — Kate down the hall, Hope Larson, Raina Telgemeier, Cecil Castellucci, and Brenden Fletcher over here at the same time.

Spotlight On Emily Carroll
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 4

It’ll be the spooktaculariest room all weekend for an hour.

Kickstarter Secrets Revealed
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 4

At last, they finally admitted that if you’re gonna do a how-to on Kickstarter, you got to get goddammned George Rohac there. Also the afivementioned Kel McDonald, Hope Nicholson, and Kickstarter’s comics outreach lead, Jamie Turner.

Markiplier Comics & More: Keenspot/Red Giant 2016
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 7AB

The annual Keenspot panel, pretty much closing out the programming for the year.


Spam of the day:

Make $7,682/month from home

a. That’s a supiciously specific number. b. Who’s to say that I don’t already?

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¹ C Spike Trotman. Trotman, Spike, Trotman!

No? Fine.

Kickstarts, On A Wednesday


There’s an audacious set of Kickstarts going on with contributions from the webcomics community, both running for just shy of a month, and with the potential to fill your shelves with lots and lots of women-centered work. Let’s dig in.

  • Naturally, we start with the latest on the Smut Peddler Double Header, which we noted yesterday was still too young to qualify for a spin on the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II¹. We’re remedying that now, and as of this writing, the FFFmk2 gives SPDH an expected final total of US$162.5K +/- 32.5K, or a range of US$130K – 195K. Given that the last Smut Peddler did about US$185K and that this prediction is probably a bit of an underestimate², I’d look for a number on the high end of that range.

    Also of note: the per-backer total of $US42.81 is significantly higher (so far) than that of either of the prior two Smut Peddler projects (5709 backers @ US$32.45 for the 2014 edition, 2291 @ US$36.27 in 2012); if the 1472 backers that exist now merely hold onto the per-backer ratio (and I’d expect them to do so, as the low-priced early bird packages are all long gone, and the high-priced special art packages are yet to be added), meeting only the backer count of the 2012 edition puts the Double Header over US$152; if they reach the backer count of 2014, you’re looking at nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

  • And on the just-launched end of things, a new anthology project, 1001 Knights seeks to create three hardcover volumes, each about 250 pages, with a total of 1001 original characters, who are people-positive with feminist overtones. It’s going to take more than 250 creators to pull this one off, and US$70,000 of which (as of this writing, which is not quite the same time as the writing of the last item³ — I can’t type infinitely fast people!) some US$15,000 has been raised in the couple of hours since launch.

    The webcomics-related creators that have their name associated with the project (a full list of which may be found here) include Aatmaja Pandya, Allison Strejlau, Carey Pietsch, Darryl Ayo, Isabel Melan&ccecil;on, Jordan Witt, Kori Michele Handwerker, Leisl Adams, Molly Ostertag, Ryan North, Sara Winifred Searle, Scott Wegener, Shannon Wright, Steven Sugar, and literally hundreds more.

    Wrangling this many creators and contributions is an enormous task, so I’m pleased to see a couple of things in the campaign that make me confident it won’t collapse into a never-fulfilled fiasco:

    We’ve held off on kickstarting until we we had nearly everything in hand. We’re working with Breadpig to make sure all costs are accounted for and to make sure fulfillment of rewards will be as efficient as possible. We’ve also got the job narrowed down to 3 printers.

    Not having to wait to get art in is going to be huge factor in meeting the promised (and honestly, very aggressive) delivery date of July 2016. But working with Breadpig means that they get the services of George, about whom I once said Problems see George, and wisely decide to be elsewhere. It’s still going to be a near thing to get the books laid out, to the chosen printer, proofed, printed, and transported before fulfillment can begin, but Breadpig have a history of meeting or beating delivery dates, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

    It all depends on meeting goal, though, so if you’ve got room on your shelves for between one and three hardcovers that look to be substantial and handsome, check out 1001 Knights.


Spam of the day:

Checkout the latest Engagement Rings

I’ve been married for more than 20 years, dipshit. Try harder.

_______________
¹ As a reminder, the FFFmk2 states you take the Trend value of a project at the 24-30 hour mark from Kicktraq and call that PV. The range at close will be PV/4 +/- PV/20, but has only shown to be valid for project with at least 200 backers at calculation time.

² The SPDH launched at 9:00pm EST Monday night so we’re actually at about 36 hours now, and the Kicktraq trend chart is angling downwards at this time.

³ And I just went back during the proofing pass on this post, and it’s now up to more than US$17,000, which because Kicktraq only updates totals once an hour, I can tell you is up from less than US$11,000 in 49 minutes.

Attention, Dudes

And we’ll get to those things, but before we talk about the other items — before you’re allowed to scroll down, and no cheating because I’ll know — all dudes¹ are required to follow this link and read what’s there. No commenting on this topic is allowed, dudes; if you feel an overwhelming compulsion to say something, let it be some variation on Thank you, Julia Wertz, I think I understand better now. Because goddammit, there is way too much garbage person behavior going around and we all need to do better.
NB: Wertz’s site has been getting hammered, so if you can’t get through, try Tumblr.

  • It’s becoming an annual tradition with me that I see the inimitable Scott C at New York Comic Con and buy his latest book; this year will be no exception as the new Great Showdowns collection released today. Pick one up from Mr C in Artists Alley (table N5) if you’re going to be at NYCC, or from your nearest purveyor of quality amusements if not.
  • Speaking of comics in print (and also e-publishing), Jim Zub² is back with the latest of his self-evaluations of the world of the creator-owned comics bid’ness, this time with an analysis of the sales of Wayward (presently between story arcs) to date. I really like the discussion of how Wayward is doing in trade sales, as Zub gave me the short version when we spoke at TopatoCon:

    Image showed a lot of faith in Wayward and printed enough copies of trade paperback #1 for two years. We sold half of the inventory in the first five months.

    He also notes how the recent conclusion of Skullkickers brings a new dimension to future sales analyses — how an entirely finished series continues, or tails off, or becomes backlisted. Nobody works harder to put out amazingly good comics than Zub, and nobody thinks more about how to do all aspects of the business better. Keep an eye on future installments of his tutorials, they are beyond value and he’s giving them away for free.

  • Speaking of comics in e-publishing, Meredith Gran worked her tail off in the weeks leading up to her own wedding to put together a new mini comic, and now that she has the opportunity to breathe again, it’s up on Gumroad. Backstory! Hanna! Character development! Only five bucks! Go get it!
  • Still with the comics, Steve Troop decided to embrace the madness of 24 Hour Comics (which you can read now, or on the Melonpool site from Saturday), and Randy Milholland has decided to jump into the Patreon pool with both feet. You can find him on the Patreon site as choochoobear (naturally), and he has gathered a modest (but generous) following in the hours since.
  • Finally, one may note that today is the birthday of Ananth Hirsh — storyteller, fashion icon, gentleman about town — and known kingmaker George Rohac is already angling to make this a more Ananthariffic world:

    It is @ananthymous’s birthday, which means he is one year closer to his ultimate run for presidency.

    I, for one, welcome his inevitable cruel (but fair) tyranny.


Spam of the day:

Get Bigger Breasts without Surgery! $15 Off

Well done, spammers, determining that I was well and truly sick of offers to buy boner pills. However, I don’t really think I need bigger, firmer breasts, with or without surgery, so … yeah.

_______________
¹ Sadly, there is no need for ladies to do so, as they already know everything there.

² Never play against this man in We Didn’t Playtest This At All, it’ll end in tears. For that matter, don’t play him at Skull either, as he will attempt to set up residence inside your brain and likely succeed.

SDCC 2015 Panel Preview

Okay! This is a bit late, seeing as how SDCC 2015 preview night¹ is a week from tomorrow and all, but the whole unable to sit upright thing yesterday put a crimp in our posting plans. Mea culpa, and let’s do this. As usual, this is a list of programs and panels in/around SDCC that I think will be of interest to the readers of this page.


Special Program For Those In Town Early

An Evening With Raina Telgemeier
TUESDAY 6:00pm — 7:00pm, San Diego Central Library

The appeal of this panel should be self-evident.


Each Day Starting Thursday

The Cartoon Art Museum will be holding its annual Sketch-a-Thon at booth #1930, with top-flight creative talent putting in one hour shifts and sketching for a suggested US$10 donation. See the booth for daily schedules.


Thursday Programming

Comic Book Law School 101: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
10:30am — 12:00pm, 30CDE

The first of three sessions on making creators sound less like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about re: matters of law, copyright, and so forth. Go to all of them.

Breaking into Comics Right Now
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 28DE

Go for the very clever people on this panel — Charlie Chu of Oni, Gina Gagliano of :01 Books, Matt Gagnon of BOOM! Studios, Ed Brisson, Sam Humpries, and Jim Zub in the moderator’s chair.

Comics for Impact: STEM Education
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

I’m of two minds about this one; on the one hand it’s got Jorge Cham (PhD) and others from the world of academia, but on the other it lacks Dante Shepherd/Lucas Landsherr, who is as we speak working off a grant to produce comics for STEM education. It’s also got Alan Gershenfeld of E-Line Media, who are the people that bought out all of Joey Manley’s sites/expertise and then never did anything with them in the webcomics sphere again. I suspect it will be about 85% really good and about 15% faintly infuriating.

First Second: What’s in a Page?
1:30pm — 2:30pm, Room 4

:01 honcho Mark Siegel talking with :01 authors Scott McCloud, Gene Luen Yang, Rafael Rosado, and Aron Steinke. Not optional.

Sergio & Mark Show
3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

Year after year I recommend this, and year after year do you go? Why you gotta make me feel neglected here? Sergio and Mark are comics’ great storytellers (that is, telling stories about comics and those that make comics, occasionally in the form of comics).

Comic-Con How-To: Art Theft Law: Prevention, Protection Prosecution
4:30pm — 6:00pm, Room 2

Sad to say, this is an important one. Learn how to make art thieves cry.

Comics Journalism: It’s About Ethics in Comics Journalism
6:30pm — 7:30pm, Room 24ABC

Guh, I hate that title, but Heidi Mac’s on the panel and she’s always good.

Artists as Brand: Rise of the Artist Entrepreneur
7:30pm — 8:30pm, Room 8

Oddly, there are no webcomics types on this panel — Spike anybody? Brad Guigar (who teaches a class on this)? David Malki !? — but I’d be interested in hearing what they’ve got to say.

Webcomics Advocates and the Webcomics Gathering
8:30pm — 9:30pm, Room 4

Key point: the hosts will, quote, will give any webcomic creators in the audience 30 seconds to promote their comic to the crowd, end quote.


Friday Programming

Spotlight on Scott McCloud
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 9

I’m trusting that it’s only the earliness of the hour that put this panel in one of the modest-sized rooms. Last year McCloud interviewed Gene Luen Yang for his spotlight; this year Yang returns the favor.

Comic Book Law School 202: Selling the Sizzle
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 30CDE

Marketing, licenses, transfers of rights, and everything you need to know so that somebody else doesn’t end up owning your house.

Cartoon Network: Adventure Time and Steven Universe
11:00am – 12:00pm, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Start lining up now; the Indigo Ballroom is the new Hall H. Ian Jones-Quartey and Rebecca Sugar will be there (hi, guys!), along with Estelle (Garnet is the best), Zach Callison (Steven), Jeremy Shada (Finn), John DiMaggio (Jake), Olivia Olson (Marceline), and Adam Muto (co-executive producer for AT). Too short a time for so much awesome.

Scott C and The Great Showdowns: Super Happy Hollywood
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 29AB

I understand that Mr C will have a limited supply of the third Great Showdowns collection with him in San Diego.

Spotlight on Katie Cook
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 32AB

Gonna just quote from the description because it pretty much says everything you need to know: Katie will be doing a rapid-fire Q&A with the audience while taking audience suggestions for drawings that she’ll be doing live on stage. Be on hand for what promises to be a fun hour of discussion, drawing, cats, and Katie!

How to Crowdfund
3:00pm — 4:30pm, Room 2

Every year they have some variation on this panel, and every year they neglect to invite George Rohac, Spike, anybody from Breadpig, Make That Thing, or any of the post-crowdfunding info services like AFter The Crowd or BackerKit. Get smarter, panel committee!

Spotlight on Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 29AB

It’s been a heck of a year for the Tamaki cousins, and it ain’t over yet.

In Your Own Time: Webcomics on Your Own Schedule
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 29AB

Longtime comics pro-gone-webcomicker Mark Waid, webcomickers turned dead-tree-bestsellers Allie Brosh, Matt Inman, and Lora Innes. I really wish I could see this one.

Orphan Black: BBC America Official Panel
5:45pm — 6:45pm, Room 6BCF

I am mentioning this so that Rich Stevens knows where to send a case of his cleverest t-shirt.


Saturday Programming

Comic Book Law School 303: And Another Thing
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 30CDE

Advanced topics; if you want to argue fair use or parody without being completely wrong, you need this session. To make use of this session, you really should have attended the previous sessions.

Working Together: Writers and Artists
11:00am — 12:00pm, Room 28DE

Yeah, it’s still early on post-Eisners Saturday morning, but look at the panelists: the Tamakis, Kelly Sue Deconnick & Steve Lieber, Asaf Hauka & Boaz Lavie (of :01’s The Divine), moderated by Andrew Farago. Listen to everything they say and do things they way they say it.

Spotlight on Allie Brosh
1:30pm — 2:30pm, Room 24ABC

In conversation with Felicia Day, with a focus on Brosh’s next book (Solutions & Other Problems, coming in October and hopefully including her dogs).

Camp Out with Lumberjanes!
2015 3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

Oh man, I love Lumberjanes, you guys.

HBO Presents the Comic-Con International Masquerade
8:30pm — 11:30pm, Ballroom 20 (ticketed) with overflow in Room 5AB, Room 6, and the Sails Pavilion

Hosted, as always, by Phil & Kaja Foglio.


Sunday Programming

Spotlight on Jeff Smith
11:00am — 12:00pm, Room 4

Jeff Smith is the best. Tell him I said hi.

Spotlight on Matthew Inman
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 28DE

Cats, dogs, a goddamned Tesla museum, and very likely Exploding Kittens, seeing as how the game should be shipping while SDCC is going on.

Spotlight on Raina Telgemeier
1:45pm — 2:45pm, Room 5AB

Raina Telgemeier is practically a publishing category of her own; she’ll be talking to Jenni Holm of Babymouse about career, her influence on building up an entire new generation of comics readers, and hopefully a sneak preview of her next book.

Chip Zdarsky: A Life
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 7AB

Dear glob I wish I could see this. Brimp on, Chip!

Markiplier and Red Giant Celebrate Keenspot’s 15th Anniversary
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 4

Keenspot will not have a panel at SDCC about the time that the sun goes cold.

Whew! That’s quite a lot! As always, please let me know if I missed anything.


Spam of the day:

H?ow d?o you d?o ass punisher

Gotta say, that’s the first time I’ve ever been called ass punisher. I’m a little disturbed by it.

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¹ Which I will not be attending, as they still haven’t told me if my press credentials were approved or not. Given the invites I keep getting for things like accredited-press-only interview pools, I’m guessing they were approved but that’s only a guess.

And not to throw shade or anything, but I applied online for press access to NYCC on Saturday and got approval yesterday, a full three weeks before the promised response date. Point: ReedPOP.

Institutions

There are towering institutions in the realm of {indy | web}comics and allied forces of creativity; we’ll note some goings-on with three of them today.

  • The ToonSeum has been a part of the rebirth of Pittsburgh’s arts district, as well as honoring the legacy of a wide swath of the comics arts. It takes a lot to keep an organization like that running, so if you’re in Western PA, consider dropping by their annual fundraiser, Ka-Blam!, on 25 April at the Teamsters Temple Banquet Hall in Lawrenceville.

    In keeping with a mission that honors not just cartoons but also its hometown, this year’s Ka-Blam! theme is Pittsburgh Characters, meaning prominent Pittsburghers (Pittsburghians? Pittsburgundians? Pittsburghasques?) will be honored, meaning you can watch people remember the greatest human of the recent common era: Mister Rogers.

  • On the far side of the North American continent sits another institution that preserves, popularizes, teaches about, and studies the comic arts: the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It’s a very active place, with programs out the proverbial wazoo, including a particularly rich and lively cluster in the immediate future. This Sunday, 19 April, will be the monthly Sunday Storytime Hour (theme: bunnies!) from 11:00am to noon.

    A scant hour later at 1:00pm, there will be hosted demo of Mangaka: The Fast and Furious Game of Drawing Comics until 4:00pm. And in a few weeks on 7 May, CAM hosts their annual fundraiser/comedy showcase, Comics 4 Comix. On the off chance none of those programs suits your fancy, there’s still a whole museum to enjoy, with a current exhibition of the films of Cartoon Saloon.

  • Coming back to the Eastern Time Zone to finish, you have an institution that is unlike the other two; one that is interested in the art and creators of comics, but in the tangible approach of directly supporting them in their efforts (not to mention their ability to pay for things like rent and food). An institution that exists in a compact, moveable (indeed, in near perpetual motion) form that is responsible for facilitating more than ten million dollars of support directly to various creators.

    I speak, naturally, of George, who condensed from an aether of pure consciousness into our world of meat and sorrow on this day in the year of our greatest hope; who took on physical form to better help us; who causes reality to shift around himself to aid those who put forth the effort to better their skills and create good works. Let us honor him on this, the anniversary of his birth, with the traditional gifts of spreadsheets, cool glasses, friendship, and Big Gay Ice Cream. Happy Georgeday, everybody!


Spam of the day:

We have Excellent work from home Option , where you will get steady Income source here No Target No Limitation,

Curiously enough, I already have that, and from a company whose checks don’t bounce.

Squirrels, Man. Friggin’ Squirrels

Let’s find some things to talk about that don’t involve the little fluff-tailed bastards.

  • Apropos of it always being a good time to keep an eye on the current goings-on around George, this note from George Rohac:

    Huh, wasn’t even paying attention – Crowdfunding Projects I’ve advised or worked on cracked 10,000,000 cumulative total.

    That would be ten million dollars, in case it wasn’t clear … United States cash money dollars. Perhaps more impressively, George has shepherded (by my count) some 30 projects to successful completion, as he is a man who brooks no nonsense, a man before whom logistical roadblocks evaporate, a man who considers reward fulfillment at the promised to time to late, and reward fulfillment a month prior to promised time to be on time. I would very much like to see George and Spike combine their powers to produce a Kickstarter guide that incorporates wisdom from the both of them¹.

  • Apropos of the fact that art thieves suck, Gemma Correll reports that multiple retailers have nothing better to do than steal her designs. This is a repeating story, one I can’t even run every time it crops us because it crops up so damn frequently, but this is the first time I’ve noticed Correll getting hosed and I am more than willing to call out the likes of Yes Style [no link, they suck] and Light In The Box [ditto]. Actually, no, let me provide one link for each of them: Yes Style’s CEO can be reached here, and Light In The Box’s investor relations officer² can be reached here. Be polite, but make your irritation known.
  • Apropos of the fact that his Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation is on the verge of shipping³, news of the start of Evan Dahm’s next classic illustration project starting imminently:

    Moby-Dick illustrations start on April 1 http://mobydickillustrated.tumblr.com/

    I kind of want Dahm to become a one-man, latter-day Classics Illustrated shop. I want a shelf full of handsome hardcovers of the greats of literature, with the exception that if he decides to illustrate The Great Gatsby I will opt out because I hate, hate, hate that book.


Spam of the day:

A Newly Released NASA Study Details Exactly How to Kill from All Types of Diabetes

I suspect that you do not know what NASA does, or hope that I do not. Either way, screw you.

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¹ Then again, I don’t want George to lose his powers by sharing them too widely. There’s a fine balance to be followed here.

² Because I can’t find another way to contact them unless you have an order number, the cowards.

³ Not due until May 2015; cf: George, above.