The webcomics blog about webcomics

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.

Happy Monday, Everybody

Where to start, where to start? Let’s grab a random story and … go!

  • Readers of this page may recall that I stand second to nobody in my admiration of Minna Sundberg’s Stand Still, Stay Silent, and may also recall that immediately after discovering and devouring SSSS, I also archive-binged on Sundberg’s earlier story, A Red Tail’s Dream¹. Before SSSS launched, Sundberg had a very successful crowdfunding campaign to print ARTD, and the books left over from fulfillment are now up for grabs:

    First, without further ado, here’s the link to the simple little store that I opened (at Storenvy) for those of you who simply want to grab a copy right naoow: Linkity-link go here!

    I’ll keep the store open for two weeks, which means I’ll close it before the month is over and go back to Finland and start shipping out the orders.

    Okay, first, I have to start rearranging my bookshelves to make room for this, because it looks gorgeous on screen, and I imagine even better on paper. Second, I hope that Sundberg can find a way to keep it in print in future, because I’d hate to think that somebody discovering her work next month would get frozen out. If you’re interested, now’s the time to buy.

    Third, somebody with a distribution business on this side of the Atlantic, please contact Sundberg and get a bulk purchase in place, because international shipping on one copy (unsigned, un-arted) puts the price on the book at ninety dollars. Granted, it’s a great big huge hardcover, and there’s only a $15 differential between people getting the book within Finland/everywhere else, but I can’t help but wonder what US media mail rates would be.

  • Homestuck! Canon! From different creators! Let’s just let Andrew Hussie explain this one himself:

    A young reader stands in a webcomic.
    April 13, 2014 by Andrew Hussie

    A brand new webcomic, to be exact. One that has launched on the 5th anniversary of Homestuck’s first page. If the thirteenth of April holds a magical place in your heart, then chances are, you are on pins and needles waiting for me to post the end of the story. It will still be quite some time before that happens. I’ve had too much else going on to be able to attack the remaining content with the ferocity that has been characteristic of my update schedule over the years. It is nothing short of The Greatest Tragedy that a beloved story is held hostage to the ability of a single artist to continue creating it. Which brings us to the website called Paradox Space, and the chapter it will represent in Homestuck’s extended life cycle.

    Those who like HS are extremely fond of the characters, yet those characters are trapped – “stuck” if you will – inside a very particular narrative, which itself has been at the mercy of my ability to produce it. So when I think about the future of Homestuck, I envision projects which liberate the things people love about it from the story itself, and most importantly, from my intensive personal effort.

    So this website is the first major step in that direction. Here is the idea:

    Paradox Space will feature many short comic stories involving literally any characters and settings from Homestuck. Any point in canon could be visited and elaborated on, whether it’s backstory, some scenes that were skipped over or alluded to, funny hypothetical scenarios which have nothing to do with canon events, or exploring things that could have happened in canon through the “doomed timeline” mechanic that is a defining trait of Homestuck’s multiverse-continuum known as “paradox space”. There is a WHOLE LOT of fun stuff we can do here; and we will!

    The idea is also to get a lot of different artists and writers involved. It’s going to be a major team effort. Occasionally I will write some comic scripts, particularly at the onset to help get this off the ground. But I’d like that to be the exception rather than the rule. I think it will be exciting to see how a talented pool of creators can work within the HS universe, and what they will bring to these characters.

    Never let it be said that Hussie doesn’t know how to keep his fans coming back for more.

    It’s a true group effort, too with Rachel Rocklin and Kory Bing listed as the managing editors, and updates scheduled daily (today was skipped so that yesterday’s anniversary launch could happen; next update is tomorrow). That sound you just heard was a thousand Homestucks polishing up their fanfic and desperately trying to find an established creator to partner with them.

  • Now this sounds like a lot of fun:

    April 26! We’re live-tweeting @strippedfilm: Everyone hits “play” @ 7PM PST/10PM EST for Q&A, behind-the-scenes stories & more #strippedfilm

    Time to clear my schedule for the 26th.

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¹ No big, just 556 pages in both English and Finnish, which Sundberg created as a practice run to sharpen her skills before launching SSSS. Like you do.

New Best Thing

Hecka. Yeah. Now all I need is the limited-edition poster and the book of the film and I’ll be as set as you possibly can be. Freddave, thanks so much for this. Oh, and if you’d like to see STRIPPED on the big screen, there are at least three screenings coming up. Only thing is, the big screen don’t get you director’s commentary, which is on the DVD, so maybe grab that?

  • Y’know, Professoressa and Professor Foglio have been doing this comics thing for a long damn time, and they must surely know by now that their fans are going to buy their books, but it’s still got to make you feel good when Girl Genius book 13 clears 100% of funding in something like 16 hours. As always, putting the Foglios on video is a treat and a half.
  • Also a treat and a half — quite possibly two treats, if we’re being honest — is the news of a new comic from Steve Wolfhard. Forg the Winter Frog is short, but it’s making me smile like a maniac; here’s hoping that Wolfhard gifts us with more Forg in the future.
  • Hey! Do you make comics? Are you in the New York City area? Thomas Crowell, author of a legal reference for filmmakers and a soon-to-be similar reference for comic book creators, will be the guest of the Media Law Collaborative of NYU’s law school on Monday, 14 April. He’ll be speaking on the topic of representing comics creators, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm with a cocktail reception to follow.

    Now it appears that the event is by invite only, which may possibly be garnered via this form. I’m not saying that a bunch of cartoonists can just show up and listen to the law guy and then get free booze, but none of us will know unless some of you try. More likely, you cartoonists will have to point it out to your lawyer or business guy or agent, but somebody you know should be going. If you can’t convince somebody to go, be sure to mention the free booze part.

Increments

Little by little; we climb a little higher, we make things a little better, we learn a little more, we progress by increments.

  • So like I promised, the final word on how STRIPPED did in its debut — throughout the day, it crept steadily higher, finally hitting the #1 documentary slot around 11:00pm EDT, which also meant a #27 overall placement. It continued to rise for some time, cracking the Top 25 overall a little after midnight. As of this writing (a little before 10:30am EDT on 2 April), STRIPPED retains the #1 documentary slot on iTunes, and #24 overall, sitting above the likes of a major animation franchise, the Coen brothers, Woody Allen, and some of the greatest musicians in history.

    What’s keeping STRIPPED from getting higher? Oh, just little obscure films like Thor 2, Gravity, and Veronica Mars, that’s all. Not bad for two dudes with bear[d]s¹, no studio, a shoestring budget, a couple of Kickstarts, and a whole bunch of people that love putting words and pictures together.

  • Speaking of long-running stories here at Fleen, Jeff Smith’s Tüki Save the Humans is back in the news. From the announcement that Smith would be jumping into webcomics, to the launch last year, to the news that Tüki had garnered an NCS award nomination², it’s been fun to watch develop and mostly fun to read.

    I say mostly because of one thing that I was not alone in noticing — the website navigation for Tüki was not great. Rather than clicking from day-to-day, there were placeholder images that you clicked on to get actual pages, then you had to navigate back to the placeholder before moving to the next day. It was awkward at best.

    And I imagine nobody realized that more than Smith and the rest of the Cartoon Books crew, as they spent time since Tüki’s launch actively soliciting feedback and design expertise, and they’ve relaunched the site with ease of reading in mind. It’s better than Smiley Bone’s descriptionNow, instead of looking like it’s from 1996, it looks like it’s from 2006! — and it’s just in time to archive-binge before the scheduled return of Chapter Two later this month.

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¹ Follow the link and check out the hovertext.

² Although I will say that it’s perhaps early in Tüki’s run for this — with only 24 pages released so far, and not all of those in 2013, and the story just starting, I would have preferred to see that recognition come after another chapter or two. Not that I think that Smith will deliver anything less than a stellar story, there’s more than ample evidence to believe that he will; it’s just that his co-nominees have been telling much larger stories and produced much more work in 2013.

No Foolin’

Guys, this is the last time I’m going to mention STRIPPED for the immediate future, except to update you as to how they’re doing in their goal to become #1 on iTunes today. As of this writing, they’re sitting at #5 in Documentaries and #59 overall; considering some of the biggest and most acclaimed films of last year are newly released and sitting in the #1 and 2 slots overall, it’s going to be some tough sledding. I’m confident, however, that they can surpass that Belieber “documentary” with your help..

Honestly, it’s a masterpiece, it’s out on iTunes today, it’s out lots of places tomorrow, and if you love comics you owe it to yourself to watch it. I’ve watched it through multiple times now, I keep noticing new things and I know there’s more there still (for example, the credits acknowledge the kind permission received to include an Oglaf [NWFNearlyEveryW¹] strip, and I haven’t spotted it yet. I wonder which one such goodly-hearted young men as Freddave could possibly have used.


In other news, happy strippiversaries this week to Christopher B Wright and K Brooke Otter Spangler who this week are celebrating, respectively, 18 and 8 years² in the webcomics mines³. After you’re done with STRIPPED, spend some time with their archives.

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¹ If you’re at work and it’s okay for you to click that link to Oglaf, I want to know if you’re hiring.

² Brooke, please have permalinkable blogpostings some day. For those wondering, the two links in that image go here.

³ Coincidentally, both of them are also making serious inroads in the world of e-books.