The webcomics blog about webcomics

Minions, I Am Disappointed

Okay, there’s still a day left to cost me and Dave Kellett some money. If it wouldn’t be unethical as hell, I’d bid the damn thing up to somewhere in the US$500+ range. In fact, let’s make this game a little more interesting: I pledged to match the purchase price of this piece up to US$500. If this is what it takes to spur some of you to get in the spirit of things (only full cast of Drive watercolor in existence, people!), I’m going to change the terms of my pledge:

I, Gary Tyrrell, will match the selling price of Dave’s piece as a donation to Team Cul de Sac up to US$1000, and with a minimum of US$500 in any case

You can’t afford to bid on a piece that might cost you multiple hundreds of dollars? Pledge a donation — however small — in the comments. You’ll get a reward beyond measure: official mensch¹ status, as declared by Richard Thompson himself.

  • One of the things that I’ve observed with interest over the past few years is the (slow, but growing) adoption of writer’s rooms in webcomics. You could say that there’s an element of it at Cyanide & Happiness where it’s easy to imagine one of the lads bouncing an idea off another of them, but I think primarily it’s individual efforts. Anyplace you get a writer/artist partnership, there’s certainly give-and-take there.

    But I think you could probably trace proper writer’s rooms to the Pacific Northwest where (as often happens) you find Scott Kurtz at the center of experiments in webcomics. The Trenches started as an explicit writerly collaboration between Kurtz and the established duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins; along with the artist changes, the writer’s room reduced to a singular voice: that of Strip Searchmonaut Ty Halley. While he may have withdrawn from one writer’s room, Kurtz was busy building up another as Dylan Meconis² joined him on writing duties on PvP.

    Crucially, I think the fact that Meconis creates comics so very different from Kurtz is a strength of this particular partnership. While Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins undoubtedly work well together they have similar strip approaches (gag-oriented, videogame and pop culture focii) and that limits the number of additional viewpoints that can be brought to bear on the final product. One might wish to compare with the writer’s room that was put together for the now-shuttered NAMCO High, featuring a bunch of creators of different ages and backgrounds (although there was a tendency for them to presently live in Brookklyn).

    I’m bringing this up because for anybody that’s considering a writer’s room, finding that balance of different experiences is probably one of the most crucial elements for success, but historically it’s something that’s been elusive. The traditional venue for writer’s rooms has been TV comedy, and much has been written in the past about how those rooms tend to be dominated by white dudes, often from Ivy League colleges, and viciously under-representative of women and minorities.

    And all of that is by way of pointing out a discussion that anybody considering a writing partnership (whether in a room or not) will probably want to listen to: as I write this sentence, WNYC midday host Leonard Lopate is introducing the author of a new book on comedy writing to discuss writer’s rooms at places like SNL, Letterman, and The Onion. You can listen to the interview here, and we can discover together what makes a good writer’s room (or perhaps the discussion follows some other track, but it’ll probably still be enlightening).

  • Skin Horse, by Shaenon Garrity and C Jeffrey Wells, is in an odd semi-hiatus right now. Those of you paying attention may have noted that Garrity is (as of this writing), hugely pregnant and not intending to do a daily strip whilst dealing with the immediate aftermath of presenting a small human child to the world³.

    Having wrapped up a storyline on Saturday, she announced that she was done drawing comics for a while on Sunday, and the next storyline (a catch-up-with-peripheral-characters melange, to feature a variety of guest artists) started on Monday. And if my eye does not fool me, Garrity even provided the art for the first vignette herself (or somebody out there has her style down cold), easing us into a summer of random fun, with Wells undoubtedly shifting plot and pacing to best match the fill-in artists.

    And in one of those weird coincidences, today’s strip features an offhand reference to an obscure cryptid known as The Hodag, which by a peculiar corincidence just happens to be one of the critters mentioned in an endnote of Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell, to wit:

    In 1893, the Rhinelander Daily News reported the discovery of the corpse of a hideous creature with huge claws and a spiked tail. It’s discoverer, local land surveyor Eugene Shpher, called it the hodag, then claimed to have caught a live one in 1896. Shortly after, he displayed it at the First Oneida County Fair. He stood by the veracity of his claims until the Smithsonian Institution announced it would travel to Wisconsin to inspect the evidence, after which he promptly recanted. This ridiculous hoax is now the official symbol Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is pretty great.

    The more you know!

  • The last time David Malki ! thought up a game, it turned into a half million dollar Kickstarter and a year-plus process of production and fulfillment. This time, he’s just decided to put the damn thing up in a post and let you play without going down the path that leads to things like livestock and international shipping incidents.

Spam of the day:

Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!

Yeah, that’ll happen. My suggestion is that to avoid future trauma to unsuspecting and blameless hermit crabs, you seal your daughter in a barrel, with a small opening to pass in food and water.

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¹ For those of you that didn’t grow up someplace where you got off from school for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, being a mensch is a good thing.

² About whom it is literally impossible to say too many good things.

³ With, it should be noted, the assistance of husband and Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago.

Callbacks

Today just seems to be chock-full of further references to things we spoke about earlier in the week. Weird how that happens sometimes.

  • I hate to keep flogging the :01 Books is awesome horse¹, but they keep cropping up in my daily life. Today it’s because the mail brought a review copy of Farel Dalrymple’s forthcoming graphic novel, The Wrenchies². Look for a review a little closer to the September release.
  • Scott C persists in his scruffy, charming ways — so much so that the jaded, flinty-eyed tastemakers at The AV Club noticed, lavishing some well-deserved praise on The Great Showdowns.
  • Thanks to the Spam of the day, this week also saw mention of Angela Melick and her prodigious skill in both engineering and autobio comics. Word is today is her birthday, which should be marked on my calendar of significant births in engineering history. Oh, you doubt I have a calendar that features the birthdays of famous engineers³? Check it — annotated version for your viewing pleasure.

    As long as we’re on the topic of birthdays, it is also the birthday of Lore Sjöberg, whose website presence is less these days than it has been sometimes. Nevertheless, there’s still a significant amount of his old Brunching Shuttlecocks work available, including Lore Brand Comics and the greatest use of Flash animation in history. I am pretty secure in my atheism, but every day I thank the possibility of God that I was born into a world featuring the phrase depleted uranium Beholder statue.

Weekend now. Enjoy the crap out of it, and I’ll see you on Monday.


Spam of the day:

After a three month long research project, I’ve been able to conclude that how to change your minecraft name doesn’t negatively effect the environment at all.

That is exactly what I’d expect a shill for Big Change Your Minecraft Name to say. Don’t believe the “official” story! Stand up against those who would despoil our natural world by changing Minecraft names!

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¹ Not true; I’ll tell you that :01 Books is awesome every day and twice on Sundays.

² Book design by Colleen AF Venable, natch.

³ Okay, technically it’s a calendar with the birthdates of significant electrical engineers. With all the circuit-building and Arduino-wrangling that Melick does these days, I’m declaring her one of us in spirit.

:s/Animation/Webcomic/g

Ian Jones-Quartey is an old friend of this page; we at Fleen have followed him since before there was a Fleen, even before mention of his first webcomic didn’t cause him to threaten to delay its return by a month. We have bar-crawled with him, attended weddings with him, discussed tacos with him, and been generally impressed to hell and back with him.

All that history just got reset; today is the first day of Anno Jones-Quartey, a new calendar marked by the time that Ian JQ dropped some serious wisdom:

[Tumblr question]: Being that you’re an industry expert, I was hoping if there were any tips or advice you can give to an aspiring Animation Series creator. Any lessons you’ve learned from working in the industry from so many years. What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out trying to get you’re animation picked up by a major network?

[Answer]:Yeah I have a big piece of advice! Stop “aspiring”!!!!! Your aspirations end now!!!!

YES YOU! DON’T WAIT! START NOW! [emphasis original]

Jones-Quartey goes on for some length, and every bit of it is worth reading and absorbing, whatever field of creative endeavour you may find yourself in. If you can read through the entire thing and not feel compelled to murder Aspiration in favor of Doing, then you weren’t ever going to Do anyway. Well done, Mr JQ; if nothing else you’ve prompted me to get off my ass about a particular project I’ve been kicking around for way too damn long.

  • No note, no celebration, just another strip (the 5114th if my math is correct): 14 years of Schlock Mercenary from my evil twin, who has come a considerable way from Day One (or Day Minus 5114, BJ-Q). Thanks for all the laughs and mayhem, Howard.
  • As many suspected might happen, STRIPPED will be showing at San Diego Comic Con on Friday night:

    Cool! @strippedfilm will be screening at the official San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival, Friday July 25th. Join us if you’re at SDCC!

    I’ve seen it a bunch of times now, but I think I want to see it on a large screen surrounded by people.

  • Oh, nuthin’, just an awesome Bee & Puppycat by Becky Dreistadt, no big deal.

Advance warning: almost no chance of a posting tomorrow, as I have to get up stupid-early for a cross-continent flight that will occupy me pretty much all day. Enjoy the weekend.

Hey Look At That, The Top Men Did It

Thanks, Top Men! Now, where to start, where to start?

  • How about here? I should have pointed you towards a short (really short, like less than 1500 words short) story by Ursula Vernon from last November, because it’s excellent (as is pretty much all her writing) and also an excellent example of what her story-voice is like. I remember dragging my wife to the computer and making her read it, so there’s that.

    But now there’s a Disney-revisionist movie playing, and Lauren Davis at io9 remembered Vernon’s story, and then The AV Club noticed it, and what kind of Vernon superfan would I be if I didn’t signal boost a little? If you like The Sea Witch Sets The Record Straight, read Digger, and the Dragonbreath series, and everything else that she’s written, and thank me later.

  • Speaking of people you should be reading under all circumstances: Hope Larson. I believe that the record is clear that I hold Larson as perhaps the best creator of graphic novels (original and adaptations) working in English today, but it’s been some time since she had a webcomic. The Secret Friend Society (once the home of Larson’s Salamander Dream, and Kean Soo’s Jellaby) has long since shuttered its doors, leaving no place for a between-books dose of Larson’s magic.

    Until now:

    I wrote the script for Solo last year. This story has been in my brain, in one incarnation or another, since mid-2012, and I’m ready for it to go out into the world. I’ll be drawing the pages and slapping them up online the moment the ink’s dry, raw and fresh and full of mistakes. And full of swear words—the subject matter is fairly tame, but it’s not a kids’ comic.

    I won’t be adhering to any sort of update schedule and I currently have no plans to publish Solo with a book or comics publisher, but I will put together a permanent website as soon as possible.

    Just bookmark it and check it regularly, yeah? It’ll be just about guaranteed the best thing you read any day that it updates.

  • Kickstarter news: less than 20 hours to go, and less than US$200 from adding yet another 8-page extension to Cuttings by Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya. For the record, if that stretch goal is made (it will be), that will make more than 50 extra pages of art in the book; if the usual last-day bump reaches the next stretch goal after (that’s another US$5000), it’ll be more than 60 extra pages added to what was original going to be a 72 page book. Added value for extra funding — that’s how you do it.
  • Kickstarter news: Somewhere around the 24 hour mark, Zach Weinersmith’s campaign for Augie and the Green Knight crossed the US$100,000 mark, knocking down stretch goals faster than Weinersmith can update. At present, though, there will be an additional five art pieces in the book, which now has a ribbon bookmark, will be made available to libraries, and recorded as an audiobook.

    Oh, and if you’re in a support tier that gets art prints along with your book(s), you now are getting five of those instead of two. Per the FFF, AatGK is headed to a finish of US$400K +/- US$134K. So, plenty of room for more improvements to come. How many extra Boulet paintings can this book hold? I’m hoping for at least 25 in all.

  • Kickstarter news: Speaking of US$100,000, that’s the goal line for Jorge Cham’s newest campaign. That’s a hell of a total, but considering that it’s intended to make a sequel to 2012′s The PhD Movie, that’s kind of a bargain. The first movie was funded by Cham and his cohorts, but since it’s apparent that there’s now an audience for the film (screenings have been held more than 500 universities and research centers, including Antarctica), why not spread around the costs? Better yet, the more money raised, the more of The PHD Movie 2: Still in Grad School you’ll get, as every dollar above goal will go into lengthening the film.

    It’s currently sitting at just under 15% of goal after about eight hours, so it appears the only question is how long the movie will actually be: raise enough and you could force Cham to make the Berlin Alexanderplatz of grad school narratives. In case you’re worried that might kill him, don’t — dude went through grad school, he’s used to never-ending, frustrating, wondering-if-it’s-all-worth-it undertakings that last for years.


Spam of the day:

With the site outage, not much got caught up in the filters. So sad! The spammers might be moving on to sites that have a higher uptime.

Ongoing

Just because the movie’s all done and released and all doesn’t mean that STRIPPED is no longer making news.

For instance, I received my copy of the Watterson poster ‘tother day¹, and by my reckoning that means that hive mind Freddave Kellett-Schroeder just have to whip up the book of the film to finish out their Kickstarter obligations. Kellett’s done what? A dozen books on his own plus How To Make Webcomics, so he can almost certainly get that put together by … I dunno, next Tuesday?

Okay, I kid, but it’s impressive to see how much of a massive undertaking Kellett & Schroeder have just about finished, which will naturally mean that it’s time for the next movie project². But on the off chance that they don’t feel like jumping straight back into a project that will take years and many, many dollars, they can at least keep the film-making habit satisfied by producing and releasing more full interviews from their 300 hour collection.

Case in point: in addition to the various bonus material found on the streamable and DVD editions, and the previously-released Bonus Material 1 (fifteen full-length interviews for more than sixteen hours of additional content), one may now obtain Bonus Material 2 (seven interviews, ten creators, nearly twelve hours of content). Or heck, go for the everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink edition with literally more than a day’s worth of discussion from more than twenty interviews³. Comics creators, there’s a lot of in-depth discussion and more than a few process demos, making this a must-have for your reference library.

And that’s not all! Their roadshow screenings continue apace, with the University of Oregon hosting a screening and Q&A tomorrow night, the Schulz Museum hosting a screening and Q&A on 21 June, Webster University (St Louis) hosting screenings on 11 and 13 July, and possibly a screening at SDCC. If Freddave aren’t careful, they’ll spend more time on the road with the finished film than they spent on gathering interviews.


Spam of the day, from our filters to you:

My parents would always share their own communion bread with us, even when we were too young to go up to the rail ourselves. It made us feel welcome as part of the church family and we learned through them what communion means and just how special and important it is. I would always serve children if their parents agreed. buy soundcloud likes

That’s just … that’s beautiful, man.

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¹ I haven’t found anyplace where suckas who didn’t contribute to Kickstarts can avail themselves of this poster, which I hope that Freddave will remedy shortly because damn this thing is gorgeous.

² If I am found mysteriously murdered after suggesting he should spend another half-decade making another movie, remember that he may appear to be an easygoing guy, that Dave Kellett, but those are the ones that have secret murderous tendencies for maximum irony when the neighbors all appear on TV and can’t believe that he’d do such a thing.

³ “Over 26 hours”, to be precise; given the 300 hours of original interview footage, this means that Schroeder and Kellett have released less than a tenth of the total material they have on hand, and can continue to give you more and more and more for some time to come. Given that a DVD can typically hold up to about 4 hours of video, the inevitable 75-disc box set is going to take some considerable shelf space, which you should start clearing now. Alternately, wait for terabyte-scale thumb drives to get cheaper and save on shipping.

Canadians And Evil Twins And Other Things Of Note

This would appear to be our heroine, but she appears to be in the company of cats, and cats are well known to be evil assholes. Explain THAT, Mr Zub!

How’s everybody doing? I’m doing good, thanks for asking.

  • STRIPPED comes to iTunes Canada tomorrow, and just like it made a run at #1 in Documentaries in the US last month, filmmakers Freddave Kellett-Schroeder are going to try to repeat the feat in the Great White North. If you live north of 49 and haven’t see the film yet, tomorrow’s a good day.
  • Not to be confused with the Great White North, some time back a webcomicker by the name of Lars Brown did a two-volume story via Oni called North World and it was pretty great. I mention this because Brown has continued to make some not-your-typical sword-and-sorcery comics by the name of Penultimate Quest, and it’s time to get the second volume of PQ printed. Enter the requisite Kickstarter campaign, which has just under two weeks and just under 10% to go. Brown’s the real deal, making comics with heart, and realistic relationships, and frustrations at your lot in life, and swords. If that sounds like the sort of thing you’d like, please consider backing PQ2.
  • Speaking of real deals that do swords and comics with heart, Jim Zub is launching a new creator-owned story (his first since Baldy and Shorty started kicking skulls in 2010; as Zub has stated, we’re on the next-to-last story arc of their adventures) in August, to be titled Wayward; if I may be permitted a moment of pure opinion, Zub’s stuff gets an automatic blind buy from me. Some of it may not turn out to be for me, but the man’s stellar hits-to-misses ratio means it’s worth plunking down four bucks to find out even if it doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

    Wayward, for the record, sounds like the finest of green tea, whisked by a senior geisha in a formal ceremony:

    Rori Lane is an outsider by nature, but moving to Tokyo to live with her single Mom has only exacerbated her weirdness. She’s feeling out of sorts, worried about fitting in and, as if that wasn’t enough, strange things are beginning to happen. Glowing symbols and patterns are starting to appear before her eyes… and she’s the only one who seems to notice.

    “Wayward is a coming of age story filled with mystery and emotion. It’s also an ass-kicking joy ride with teenagers beating the hell out of Japanese mythological monsters,” said Zub. “Steve and I built this series from the ground up to play to both our strengths. I can’t wait for people to see what we have planned.”

    In WAYWARD a group of teens living in Tokyo find a common bond in manifesting strange, supernatural abilities. As they begin to unravel the mystery behind their powers and their common source they’re drawn into a war with the vestiges of Japan’s monstrous mythic past.

    Buffy meets Spirited Away, anybody? You can bet that I’ll be finding Zub at SDCC in July and dragging as much info out of him as I can.

  • Speaking of Zub, even if I weren’t blind-buying all his work I’d still pick up the next Schlock Mercenary collection (featuring a short story by Zub), which is now up for pre-order. The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse story arc set up much of late-period Schlock’s story development, was nominated for a Hugo Award, and is available in standard (US$20) and sketch (US$30) editions. For that you’ll get 160 pages of full-color mayhem, the bonus Zub-penned story, and a deep sense of personal peace and tranquility¹.

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¹ They say that the grave is very tranquil.

LIsten To This Woman

These days, there are people I think of when I think of Kickstarter — people who have run campaigns and made them work, people who are thinking of new ways to put Kickstarter to productive use, people who don’t pooch the fulfillment phase even while hitting significantly high dollar totals. In terms of Machiavellian planning skills, sheer numbers of campaigns (my estimate: at least 30), and enormous dollar figures (estimated lifetime total: US$3.9 million), you’ve got George.

But in terms of a close-to-the-ground, it’s-my-content-sitting-in-my-living-room approach to Kickstarter, it’s hard to beat the experiences of one C Spike Trotman. She’s a successful Kickstarter-er and she’s been hit up for her secret knowledge so often that she announced a while back she was just gonna do a PDF comic of how to run a Kickstarter and not have to deal with the constant queries. Individual pages of the project were shared to Tumblr over time, but other projects (including a Kickstarter for Sumt Peddler 2014: Peddle Harder¹) intervened.

Until today. I’ve just read Let’s Kickstart a Comic (And Not Screw It Up), and while it seems like a bunch of common sense to anybody that’s been eyes-open and paying attention for the past couple of years, the benefits of having all that common sense in one place are undeniable, especially since it’s only five bucks for all this wisdom. Thinking about doing a Kickstarter (or other crowdfunding campaign), especially one for comics? Do your homework (i.e.: buy this comic) first so we ain’t got to hear you complain later how you didn’t know it would be this hard. It’ll still be that hard, but at least you’ll know that going in.

In other news:

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¹ Electric Smutalloo? The Smut Strikes Back? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Smut?

² The J stands for Jay.

Porn And Piders

I’ve been thinking about something that might be more suited to coverage tomorrow, but work-related travel may make that impractical. It might be even more appropriate to Monday morning, but regular work means that the majority of my embloggenation happens at lunchtime, and that’ll be too late. So it’s today, Thursday, one of the lesser days of the week, where we discuss it. Feel free to check how my thoughts actually pan out in a couple of days.

Smut Peddler 2014 is currently sitting (as I write this) at US$136,624 on a goal of US$20,000; the FFF predicted a finish of US$133-266K, so yay it’ll land within my excessively wide margin of error.

The question now is, as we enter the last 100 hours or so, will an end-campaign bounce take place? SP2012 had a mid-campaign spike and no real uptick at the end; SP2014 has followed the usual long tail, and may need a final, exciting stretch goal to prompt a sudden spike in funding.

Here’s the other thing I’m very much wondering about — lots of web-type people note that their traffic is highest on Monday, lowest on the weekend; SP2014 finishes just before noon EDT on Monday. Will the relatively low weekend internet browsing levels work against a final spurt? Will the fact that it finishes on a Monday mean that people happen across one last-minute link and get impulsive? It would be very tough to put an effective control on Kickstarter project analyses for launch day and wrap day, but I have a feeling that launching on a Monday (to catch high traffic) and finishing on a Tuesday or Wednesday (to catch high traffic for the this is your last chance reminders) would possibly be most effective. Ask me when we’ve got another 1000 or so webcomics campaigns we can dig through for data. In any event, come Monday (so to speak) we’ll be able to quantify exactly how much people like porn.


Speaking of Kickstarts, click here. Did you spontaneously exclaim Oh man, I love Baman Piderman? No? Then take an hour of your life and watch the shorts because honestly, the only people that don’t spontaneously exclaim are those that are watching Bamanm Piderman for the first time. For about three and a half years, starting about five years ago, Baman Piderman has been a labor of love, and in order to bring it to a satisfying conclusion, creators Lindsay and Alex Small-Butera are looking for a quite modest sum of money (US$50,000) to make five episodes, each running probably about five minutes. In an actual animation studio, that US$50K wouldn’t cover craft services¹ for a week.

But still! Fifty thousand dollars is a lot! Consider, though: US$10K/episode or US$2K/minute gives a budget of US$33.33 per second of animation, or about two bucks for each of 15 frames per second. Are you willing to draw a couple-ten thousand very precisely designed pictures for two bucks a pop? How long would it take you to draw each of those, and would it be worth your time? Fifty grand is a bargain, and it appears that many of you agree, as the Small-Buteras² are sitting at about 90% of goal one day in (and the FFF is giving a final funding of around US$115-330K) with 29 days to go.

Seriously. Check out the shorts. You’ll love ‘em.

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¹ Which under the rules of studio accounting would also incorporate the executive hookers ‘n’ blow line item.

² Or possibly Smalls-Butera.

This Must Needs Be Brief

Work informed me yesterday afternoon that I have to be in San Francisco next week, and I’m running around all crazylike doing a million things that need to be done (including figuring out how to get home from the airport after a redeye, as I just saw that the Port Authority will be shutting down the rail link that I use while I’m gone … until July). So all that, and yeah, next week’s posts will be on a Pacific Time schedule.

I do, however, have time to mention two things:

  • Today marks eleven years of Wondermark, which would be remarkable enough even if David Malki ! weren’t doing a zillion other things in the meantime, like guerrilla interview films at comic conventions, short films about henchmen, two massive works of anthology fiction, one incredibly complex card game, inventing a new means of animation motion-capture, inventing a new means of teleprompting, engaging in a Bookwar with Ryan North, and making a feral cat into an international superstar. For the best possible simulation of what it’s like in Malki !’s head, open all those Vines in separate tabs and listen to them all play at the same time.
  • And I’ll remind you all that — as was noted before in accordance with prophecy — tomorrow night at 7:00pm PDT/10:00pm EDT, the people behind STRIPPED will be hitting play on the movie and livetweeting the experience. Feel free to follow along at hashtag #strippedfilm.

Okay, back to frantic arrangements. See y’all on the left coast.

Fundamental Rules

Ah, webcomics. You have mysterious ways, rules that are unique to your world, rules which are not always apparent even to you. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they work against you.

  • In the working for you domain, Kris Straub ran up against one of the fundamental rules of webcomics — the First Law of Fanart states that If you make something cool, other people will make new stuff inspired by you. Naturally, said new stuff is subject to Sturgeon’s Law, but even the ninety percent can give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside: I inspired somebody! And that last ten percent? Sometimes it’s very, very good:

    Several months ago, David Graey, a composer/performer and fan of Broodhollow, let me listen to a piece he wrote for Curious Little Thing. I was really impressed, and even more impressed to learn he had an entire album in him. It’s now on sale — 33 minutes of soundtrack music for the first Broodhollow book! 13 tracks and a digital booklet of liner notes from David and myself!

    To sum: a musically-inclined person was inspired by Straub’s webcomic, and put together compositions good enough to make into a product with Straub’s blessing and cooperation. Graey and Straub¹ make a little money, we get to hear some scarily-appropriate music, and Graey may find himself the Patrick Doyle, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, or James Horner of webcomics. Seriously, how great would it be for a very mood-specific soundtrack to be released with your favorite reprint collection? Say, Table Titans, Monster Pulse, Family Man, or Vattu? Just think about it, creators, okay?

  • In the didn’t even know it was there domain, hidden metadata regarding your site, which affects the advertising you might be able to obtain for your screen real estate. Jennie Breeden and her husband Obby saw a sudden and unexplained drop-off in the advertising rates for The Devil’s Panties and it took some digging to find out why. Bottom line: a seven-part score of the — let’s say respectability — of the site decided that on the Adult Content scale, Breeden’s autobio was judged as unsavory as hardcore streaming porn.

    The process of finding out that these scores exist, correlating them to advertising efforts, and the possibility of getting them adjusted to reflect reality are the subject of a technical writeup at Medium that you need to see if you ever use (or may in the future use) advertising on your site. The (so far) rather opaque nature of the TRAQ (for that’s what it’s called) scores and the not-terribly-well-defined process for getting bad scores re-evaluated underscore the importance of a fundamental rule: the First Law of Your Website’s Reputation states that nobody will care about your site as much as you do, and you ignore attempts of others to characterize you and your content on their terms at your peril.

  • In the nothing is ever static domain, a reminder that the infrastructure of the modern internet is always changing — Kickstarter announced that in addition to their project categories, there will now be subcategories. The oft-used (at least by readers of this page) Comics category now has five subsidiaries, Anthologies, Comic Books, Events, Graphic Novels, and Webcomics.

    The greater granularity may make it easier to avoid ill-fated projects like the guy who has the greatest comic book idea ever but has never actually made a comic book and those that look at Kickstarter as the magic money machine. I have a feeling that these doomed projects will tend fall into the Comic Books category, with some spilling over into Graphic Novels. Webcomics, I have a feeling, will be for people that have a body of work you can look at and judge, and Anthologies the same thing writ large, as there will be multiple people whose work you can judge. Events will most likely remain a wildcard.

    I know that you’re expecting a fundamental rule at this point, and I have to go back more than 30 years to cite something I heard that I’ve since come to think of as the First Law of Ubiquity: don’t reference anything (in entertainment or advertising or business) you’d have to explain to your audience. Kickstarter’s audience may be somewhat more internet-savvy than the general population, but not by a tremendous amount. Yet there it is: Webcomics, without further explanation. I’d say that’s only a good thing.

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¹ Himself no slouch in the musical realm.