The webcomics blog about webcomics

Joy In Comics

At the end of show hours I thought this was going to be a short post, but … well, you’ll see.

Saturday was commerce, commerce, and more commerce, to the point that I didn’t really get off the floor and and only had one good (albeit brief) circuit away from the booth. The Cards Against Humanity folks that have shared the Dumbrella booth have nearly sold their stock through and during the days closeout told us they want Andy and Rich to expand beyond their half of the booth so that they (CAH) can point their (CAH again) customers at their (Rich & Andy this time) stuff and hopefully sell a lot of it.

At the end of a show that is grinding and tiring, to take an approach other than Welp, guess we can pack up early and beat the rush, bye! is fundamentally generous; the game may be self-described as for horrible people but the people behind it are stellar. Thank you, Trin, Tom, Julia, Joe, and I know I’m forgetting other names because it’s early and I was up late.

I’ve mentioned Jason Alderman on this page before, and not only is he an enthusiastic, wonderful guy, he’s local. When he says So there’s this really good place that’ll take us a little while to walk to but we won’t have to cross with the nerd herd coming out of the convention center and we’ll probably get great food in us while the rest of the showgoers are still an hour from being seated at The Cheesecake Factory, you listen to him. There was a great meal and I’m not telling you where or everybody will get wise to his insider’s knowledge.

But as I approached the counter to give my order, the young woman looked at my collar and saw the Mutant Pride pin that I’ve been wearing this week on my shirt’s right collar¹. Her eyes lit up, then welled up just a little and she told me how much she loved it and wanted to know where to I got it. I pointed at Rich and said He designed it and started to mention his site and then figured it was still early on a Saturday night, she’s in the middle of nightly rush, she’ll never remember a URL or lose anything I might scribble a barely legible reference on and what the crap, there are still hundreds of them back in the booth.

So I unpinned it and handed it to her and her hands flew to her mouth and I legit thought she was going to faint. An entire silent story played out on her face, about what both halves of that pin meant to her personally; she’d been through her own version of hated and despised by a world that fears her, and one day she discovered mutants and they made her feel less alone.

Now she was in the shadow of the building where a tribute to the medium that made her feel a bit more whole was going on and she’s working a restaurant job that probably doesn’t allow her time to actually make the brief journey into the convention center and a skinny middle aged dude with a ridiculous moustache is giving her a badge that represents her. She told me it was the greatest day of her life; I believed her². I pulled Rich up the her register and I know he had more of his Pride stuff in his pockets that made its way across the order counter.

There it is — beyond the hassle and the scope and the seeming focus on everything except comics, a connection got made³ and somebody’s day got better. It’s tempting to read too much into this one brief experience, but it honestly reminded me that my view on capital-l Life is pretty incrementalist in nature; small changes and individual effort, when there’s enough of them and over a long enough period of time, make big differences.

I’d rather rely on ten (or a thousand or a million) people doing one small good thing than hope that a single powerful person does something big and good, if only because it’s harder to lose the hearts of ten (or a thousand or a million) people than it is to be disappointed by one4. Here’s hoping I’m still holding onto this sunny weltanschauung at the end of the day.

Things To See On Sunday: I’m about to head to the convention center, hook up with Pat Race, and check out the Art Of Steven Universe panel at 10:00. Find your own way there, I don’t want to get squeezed out.

Stuff To Get: Whatever’s on sale. But I have to tell you about what’s in the image up top. On the left is the Scott C triceratops pin, and on the right is further proof that I have the best friends in known space. Andy Bell has a new line of blind-boxed keychain danglers, little food characters. He opened up most of a case to find the one he based on me so he could give it to me. I’ve shown up in comics before, but this is the first time an artist has rendered me in 3D form. That little moustache-sporting toast is the coolest thing ever.

Cosplay: Bob and Linda remain popular (this guy had H Jon Benjamin’s habit of starting Bob’s sentences with Uh down to a science), Snape was excellent, and Larry & Gert from Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland were killing it (for every possible value of it; I’m pretty sure there was a trail of corpses). The best photo I got all day was of our own Ferocious J with Wendy-as-Harley Quinn (he has a passion for Wendy’s), but that was not the best cosplay of the day.

I didn’t get a photo, but there was a group of five people dressed up as The Avengers done as fast food mascots, and it was glorious. Fortunately, J did hand me his phone, so I present to you Hashtag McVengers. Seriously, follow the hashtag, because no detail was too small. The wings on the side of Captain KFC’s helmet were chicken wings. The Mighty Ronald’s McMjölnir was a thing of beauty. Black Wendy told me they’d been a group of Mr Meeseeks on Friday and couldn’t get ten feet without being stopped; on Saturday, they couldn’t get five. Today, they’re supposed to be an Archer group and I wager it will be top notch.

Spam of the day:

Find vehicle tracking devices

I think they’re offering me a device that finds other devices that in turn track vehicles.

¹ I’ve been wearing last year’s Pride Of The Resistance pin on my fleece for the past year, but for Con I’ve worn it on the left collar.

² Thinking back on it, that statement is both wonderful and awful.

³ And later, walking back to the hotel through the Gaslamp waaaay too late, another one got made. This involved helping a weaving-hard couple out for Party Times across the street when they lost forward momentum. He was dressed sharp and had slicked-back hair and Erik Estrada teeth. She had heels too tall for her current state and a dress that left little to the imagination. They were both maybe 25, 26.

She said I was cute5 and I asked But isn’t your boyfriend jealous now? She shot him a look and said He hasn’t locked it down yet, showing a ringless left hand. I shot him a look and said Dude. He protested She’s been listening to that Rihanna song too much!

A heartbeat’s pause, then I asked her Did he just say Rihanna? and she Mmm-hmmed me. I said You can do better and she Mmm-hmmed me again. I removed his arm from her shoulder, put her arm on mine for balance and told him Sorry, I have to help her find somebody that knows the difference between Rihanna and Beyonce. He shouted Wait, I meant Beyonce! How do you [middle aged guy, all looking like a Ben Folds fan] know about Beyonce? I looked at her and said He didn’t and she Mmm-hmmed a third time. There on the streetcorner we made him promise that the ring would be obtained this week and I showed him the proper technique for getting down on one knee.

They aren’t all super deep and meaningful and probably neither of them remember it this morning, but this particular connection was friggin’ hilarious for at least two of us. I really hope Supertight Minidress Lady and Perfect Smile Dude make it work. Those crazy kids deserve it.

4 Case in point: I’m going to make you wait longer for the writeup of the Read Like A Girl panel on Friday because it’s not bashed into shape yet.

5 She was very drunk, but possibly she’s just spent the last couple days binging on Dream Daddy for the previous couple of days. What the heck, I’m dad age. Actually, that would be perfect reason for her otherwise inexplicable compliment, on account of I was talking with Dream Daddy director/lead developer Tyler Hutchison earlier that day about the wave of Tumblrteen hate directed at his team for making them wait a whole six days to get a game that had only been announced a month ago. OMG, they’ve waited forevvvvv-her-her-her it’s so unfair.

Hey, Tumblrteens, that was me mocking your distress. Hutchison was actually very appreciative that you were so passionate about his game.

Deep Bench

Did I just accidentally use a softball term? I think I did.

  • One may recall that, oh, two months back or so, NPR Books asked for input as to what comics people should be reading as part of a summer reading list. More than 7000 entries were submitted, and an expert panel¹ (revealed yesterday to include webcomics own Spike) broke that mass down to a list of 100 comics. Not the best, not the most well-known², but a wide list of comics works; having a familiarity with a good chunk of them means that you’ve got a handle on the art from (although dominantly as expressed by American/Canadian creators; there were not a huge number of manga on the list, and even fewer Eurocomics).

    And, as noted a couple months back, they gave webcomics a seat at the table — nineteen of the even 100 entries on the list are explicitly identified as webcomics, with more items listed in other categories that originated as webcomics, or are created by people that came up from webcomics, or which are web/indie in their essential nature. Here, then, are the webcomics (and webcomics-alikes) that mass agreement and expert opinion think you ought to be reading:

    John Allison’s Tackleverse comics, the editorial stylings of The Nib, Wondermark, Hark! A Vagrant, Homestuck, As The Crow Flies, Oh Joy, Sex Toy (!), Stand Still, Stay Silent, Check, Please!, Gunnerkrigg Court, Kill Six Billion Demons, O Human Star, The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ And Amal, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Vattu. It would be hard to disagree with any of them.

    Originally (at least partly) webcomics, but tagged under different categories, you’ve got Nimona, Through The Woods, Megahex (Graphic Novels); Finder³ (Series Comics); Dykes To Watch Out For (Newspaper Strips, although it’s at least as much a webcomic); American Born Chinese (All Ages — not that age appropriateness alters the ability of a story to fall in one of the genre/topic categories). You also had once-and-future webcomickers Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), and Ryan North (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). In all, better than a quarter of this stab at a canon is webcomics or webcomics-releated.

    There will be plenty to disagree with, naturally (no Achewood, Octopus Pie, or Drive?), but that’s why canons exist — to be argued over, refined, resolved, agreed upon, and rejected all over again. It’s a good start, though, and there’s almost certainly plenty for you to discover (on a fast skim, I appear to have read 53 of the 100 suggestions).

  • Also not on the list, for the piddling reason that it’s not technically published yet: a print collection of 100 Demon Dialogues by Lucy Bellwood (Adventure Cartoonist!), which project wrapped up about two hours ago (as of this writing), and which Kickstarter launched shortly after.

    It’s been a terrific project to watch over the past three months or so — Bellwood has been dealing with the voice in her head (he’s a jerk) that tells her what she can’t do by forcing the little bugger into conversation. We’ve all got that demon, reminding us of our failures and telling us not to bother, and remembering that fact is a pretty good way to rob them of the power they have over us.

    The book is going to be gorgeous, the demon plushes are going to be great, and you want to get in on this. At the (again, as I write this) 1 hour 45 minute mark, Bellwood’s at just under 38% of goal, but kindly do not sleep on this. The campaign will run less than three weeks, and if you miss it your little jerk demon will certainly tell you that you screwed up.

    And if nothing else, the video is priceless. I need to know who does the demon voice because it’s perfect.

Spam of the day:

Confirmation Needed: $100 Kroger Gifts Inside

I don’t believe there is a Kroger (or as we said in my Midwestern college days, kro-zhay, ’cause it’s obviously French) grocery store within a 5-6 hour drive. Maybe next time try to bait me with a fake coupon that wouldn’t be essentially impossible for me to use?

¹ Somewhere, heads are exploding over the fact that four of the panelists are women. Sources close to the explosions were quoted as saying Girls are icky and get their cooties on my funnybooks.

² But which inevitably includes Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Persepolis, Maus, Jimmy Corrigan, A Contract With God, and Action Comics #1

³ Finder’s been both, so this one is arguable.

Looking Like A Two Post Kind Of Day

So Kickstarter just dropped an interesting project for the first few weeks of summer:

Now through July 31, a group of over 65 exceptional artists, designers, musicians, and makers will be back on Kickstarter, putting new spins on ideas from their past projects.

They’re calling it Kickstarter Gold, and there’s an impressive array of projects already live (43 as of this writing), including such webcomickers as Zach Weinersmith (a new Science Abridged book to match the previous Holy Bible Abridged), K. Lynn (a new edition of Plume), Ryan North (I quote: SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN’ SHARK… and/or other stories), and Scott Kurtz (previous Table Titans stuff, with a focus on a previously-missed stretch goal).

Let’s just say it’s been a future-expensive morning (which, considering that it’s commemoration of US$1 billion in pledges) and leave it at at that. Kickstarter Gold runs through 31 July, with various projects concluding funding before then.

We At Fleen Are Ignoring #Comeyday

Because there must be things going on that are more cheerful than the death of the American institutions of self-governance. Perhaps our neighbor to the north can help.

  • Oh my goodness, has anybody told Kate Beaton about this yet?

    There may be volleyball and Val Kilmer in Top Gun sequel

    This is the best news. Nobody, and I mean nobody, appreciates beach volleyball like Kate.

  • Speaking of Kate Beaton, word came yesterday that she and a bunch of other (all Canadian, at least for now) comics artists are getting a new line of beautiful new prints from Toronto’s Papergirl Press. The Pushpin launched with more than a dozen artists, existing art and new originals, nearly 50 different pieces in all. Prices range from US$15¹ (for 5 x 7² King Baby designs) up to US$150 for a poster-sized screen-printed artists proof of a Michael Cho Batman design³.

    The creators represented by Pushpin (from [web]comics you have your Ryans North, your Chips Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod, Jeff Lemire, Johnnie Christmas, and Valentine DeLandro; illustrators include Chloe Cushman, Christian Northeast, Dani Crosby, Julia Breckenreid, Sarah Lazarovic, and Jay Dart aka Granduncle Jiggs) have all been enthusiastic on the sosh-meeds about how thrilled they are with the new endeavour, so it’s fair to say that unless Pushpin becomes sudden so popular that they can’t keep up (or Canada Post decided to mutilate all the packages in shipping), your choice of Fine Art For Your Walls should bring you pleasure.

    Just please, despite the name, do not affix these to your wall with actual pushpins. They deserve better than that.

Spam of the day:

28?Hot Girls and Their?Pets

Uh-huh. Let’s not.

¹ With the option to purchase in Canadian dollars or Euros as well.

² Or 12.7 x 17.8, if you prefer centimeters to inches)

³ This is a rare piece not produced by Pushpin, and limited to existing stock. The in-house items are all giclée on heavy cotton-rag paper.

Kickstarts. Must Be Tuesday

Things are racing to their logical conclusions (i.e.: overfunding) all over the damn place. Let’s have a looksee, shall we?

  • Howard Tayler¹ has been grinding out a hell of a complicated Kickstart for just about two years now. The fact that it’s about a year overdue on much of its deliverables² would ordinarily make the prospect of launching another Kickstart suicidal; crowdfunding backers will turn on you when they don’t get what they want. And yet, that appears to not be the case.

    For starters, Tayler and his production team have been communicating with their backers on a regular basis, identifying where work is being done, advising early about hiccups, delays, and the reality of scheduling. In the two years since the Planet Mercenary role-playing game campaign wrapped, there have been 55 updates (call it every other week) to keep backers in the loop. That honest outreach buys a hell of a lot of goodwill.

    The update four days ago let backers know that non-paper items needed for fulfillment are either on hand or arriving within the week, and paper items would be going to print. This puts reward assembly in the late June timeframe, and shipping completion (by my estimates, there are about 3300 backers that still need stuff shipped to them) in July.

    Expectation. Communication. Modified expectation. Happy backers. ‘Taint rocket surgery.

    And that’s why the same day that We’ve gone to print was shared (that would be yesterday), Tayler, et. al., were able to launch a second Kickstarter campaign, for a game master’s screen. This one hasn’t been buried by a host of Oh, this one’ll be a year late too for an important reason beyond the accumulated goodwill: it’s limited. Much like the challenge coin campaign, it’s for a single item, designwork done, limited reward tiers, simple stretch goals, and nearly immediate shipping — in this case, the screens will be shipped in July (possibly concurrent with the PM fulfillment; I can see a lot of backers of the game wanting the screen), and backers will have ’em in time for GenCon.

    And it’s working; we’re in Day Two of the 19 day campaign, with 85% of the US$19.4K goal in hand. More interestingly, as of this writing there’s a significant phenomenon in the reward tiers: 438 people have backed an early bird tier that gets you three big things and three little things (details aren’t important, work with me here) for US$20; 10 people have backed the non-early bird equivalent tier that gets you three big things and one little thing for US$25.

    Either Tayler’s backers aren’t good at reading (which is not characteristic of his demographic) or ten people just wanted to give him more money. That can’t be explained by short campaign lengths, simple reward structures, or short fulfillment times. That’s entirely down to goodwill, and it’s worth more than any six-figure campaign of the past³ or future4.

  • I’ve lost track of how many Kickstarts C Spike Trotman has run by now5, but in a lot of ways she runs hers the opposite of how Tayler runs his — there’s a template there, one that she follows every time, tinkering around the edges but not messing with success6. The latest project to get the Spike treatment went live last night, and about sixteen hours later is closing in on US$10K of its US$25K goal.

    As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman is about a queer, black teenage girl at an otherwise all-white Christian summer camp; if you’ve not read it, you can get a flavor of it from an autobio piece Gillman did in The Nib last year about her own experiences at Christian summer camp.

    It’s the sort of story that it’s hard to imagine finding a foothold at a publisher other than Iron Circus; queer themes, POC protagonist questioning faith, cast dominantly made up of teen girls, but no magical destiny or powers or adventure? All done in colored pencils, with whole pages given over to wordless (sometimes characterless) landscapes, as many as it takes to set the mood? It’s a damn good story, one that deserves to find an audience, and thanks to Gillman and Spike now it will.

    As The Crow Flies: Volume One will collect the first 270 pages of story (Gillman’s on page #286 now), which constitute approximately the first half of the story’s weeklong structure. Backers can get physical and PDF books, signed bookplates, and for the ridiculously low price of US$100, original story pages. There were commissions available, but they’re gone; but if you’re looking for a speaker, US$1000 (plus travel and lodging) gets you a visit from Gillman, a full day of instruction, and 20 copies of ATCFv1. At US$30K (only US$5K over goal), Gillman adds a side story to the book.

    That’s it — simple, straightforward, the material is all produced and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the book layout is all done and just waiting for a number to be attached to the print run. Oh, and one other thing — this is only the second Iron Circus Kickstart of 2017; Spike’s gonna have plenty more for us before the year’s out.

Spam of the day:

Get up to $15,000 Overnight!

Yes, “ZippyLoan”, borrowing fifteen large from unknown persons in Nevada is absolutely something that does not make me think I’ll end up owing The Mob an extortionate interest rate and possibly a kneecap.

¹ Evil twin, etc.

² A major component, the 70 Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries books, has shipped, albeit about nine months late.

³ The challenge coins funded at US$155K, the PM RPG at US$349K.

4 By the FFF mk2, the game screens are heading for US$40K +/- 8K.

5 Eleven as of about 9:00pm EDT last night; number twelve is now live.

6 And for five measly bucks, she’ll tell you how to do it, too.

[Demanding] Answers On A Postcard

Obligatory non-political content for those that came for such: the SPX exhibitor lottery is now open, and not terribly changed from the last couple of years except for a simplified process for randomly selecting the winners. Good luck to all, and see you in September.

So. Postcards. Maybe not the best way to communicate your desires with your elected representatives (that would be talking to them in person at a town hall or in their constituent office, although a lot of them seem to be ducking that route presently), but one with some unique advantages. Consider:

  • It’s a physical artifact that can’t be ignored. It’s there in front of a member of staff and has to be dealt with.
  • Ever since that asshole mailed anthrax around in 2001, all Congressional mail goes to a special facility for x-raying/opening away from legislative offices; postcards can’t hide anything and breeze through the process. Heck, if it’s going to a local office, it probably gets delivered directly without any delays.
  • Being open to the world carries a message: here is what I believe and I’m saying it in public; additionally, the design side carries its own message to the many hands (postal workers, political staffers) who can’t help but see an eye-catching design.
  • They’re cheap, and while long distance call charges are no longer a thing (ask your parents, kids), don’t forget to factor in the time you spend on hold or with a busy signal.
  • For those with anxiety issues, no human stranger to deal with.

But a lot of your basic commercial postcards are not gonna convey that message you really want to send, right¹?

So it’s a good thing that webomickers are stepping up and providing designs. Some are download-and-print-yourself, at least one set is going to be for sale at cost (more on that in a minute), and because Congress apparently still uses fax machines, there’s even a handy item for that particular channel. Let’s dive in:

  • From Jess Fink, a super-classy floral design with lots of small symbolic cues: Change! Courage! Compassion! Overcoming hardship! Peace!
  • From Howard Tayler (disclaimer: my evil twin), a rather fiestier design that demands attention, in two color variations. He even gives a suggestion as to where you can get ’em printed².
  • From KB Spangler (disclaimer: my good friend, and I wrote the foreword for one of her books), a series of wallpapers and icons free for download prompted the thought of printing up postcards and selling at cost; this is not a new thing for Spangler, who regularly gives away the PDF version of her books to readers that can’t afford the purchase price. Also a thing: Spangler’s readers regularly buy multiple copies of her books so that she can afford to give away the excess copies in this manner; in that vein, I promised to pay for 100 people to receive postcards.

    Before I could pull my budget Soros act, however, Spangler announced that an anonymous benefactor paid for the print run, so everybody can buy them for the cost of shipping. For those of you with cash-flow issues, that cost will be literally zero, because I sent Spangler the costs of envelopes, postage, and postcard stamps. Order ’em and they’ll arrive pre-stamped for your constituent-communication convenience.

  • From Shing Yin Khor, two offerings: for those that prefer to be completely unambiguous about your feelings, fuck-you postcards³; for those that need a bit more immediacy that the postal system offers, a similarly-themed fax template for crappy Senators.

Lots of options to choose from, and more coming every day. May I suggest that you follow the lead of people noted in this Teen Vogue story that are addressing their postcards to President Bannon? I’m pretty sure I heard that the actual president* thinks that’s a great joke.

Spam of the day:

Dunkin Donuts Stuff

I wonder if they use the word Stuff as equivalent to the Stuf in the ubiquitous Double-Stuf Oreos? Like, there’s just some vat somewhere of the filling they stuff into the various filled donuts? And that’s what they want to shill to me? Ick.

¹ Although I do like the idea I saw of sending postcards featuring various National Parks, particularly those associated with various unofficial Twitterfeeds.

² I had some postcards printed a while back and can also recommend PsPrint; they’re fast and do quality work.

³ I would pay serious bucks if Onstad surfaced long enough to offer Fuck You Friday postcards.

More Than Just Ladybits And Dudejunk

Those who’ve followed the career of “Hurricane” Erika Moen¹ know that she’s got a myriad of artistic talents besides drawing folks gettin’ it on for your entertainment and edification². She does awesomely classy, vaguely antique-y prints and paintings (many featuring gold leaf accent) on subjects as varied as octopi and vegetables, and/or using the motifs of religious iconography. She tells tales of her life, leaving nothing behind as she tells us who she is, what she experiences, and how she sees the world.

And lately, she’s been doing a lot of needlework, with delicate and beautiful renditions of plants. Even more lately, she’s combined several of these outlets — needlework, plants, how she sees the world — with her support of health causes (sexual and otherwise) in general, and a dose of righteous anger over a shameful incident t’other night. Even better, she’s sharing:

As soon as I heard that phrase, I knew I had to commit it to stitches– but the words by themselves, though powerful, looked a bit empty floating in space all alone. So then I thinks to myself, I thinks “What do I love to embroider? FLOWERS, motherfucker!” After considering a few different species known for their hardiness (Or should I say … their persistence?) I decided on the noble thistle. She’s tough as nails, has a plan, and will draw blood if you try to grab her with your bare hands. Yeah. The thistle is my flower of choice for this project.

I was super flattered to get several requests to share my design with my fellow embroidery enthusiasts! So yeah! I’mma do that! But first, I ask that you follow these instructions:

  1. Before downloading this pattern, you must donate at least $5 to International Women’s Health Coalition.
  2. You will use this design for personal use only, not for profit or commercial use.

[emphasis original]

If you like needlework (or you like somebody that does needlework), the link to the design of the PDF is at her site; she even includes links to needlework resources in case you’re new to all of this. Patterns, I’m told, can go for quite a bit more than five bucks, and usually don’t financially support such a worthy cause, so get to donating, downloading, stitching, knotting, and hopefully not too much finger-sticking and bleeding³.

Spam of the day:

I used to drink every day of my life until I woke up in an ambulance with a seizure. I flatlined that day. I was dead for a couple minutes. I woke up and realized I had a problem.

Dude, I am an EMT, you do not simply wake up with a seizure in an ambulance after flatlining. Save that shit for movies and TV that don’t know any better in shilling your shitty alleged rehab services.

¹ So named because she is a friggin’ force of nature.

² Not to diminish the fact that her husband, Matthew Nolan; is an equal contributor to Oh Joy, Sex Toy; today we’re talking about her specific artistic history.

³ If you do bleed, use cold water or club soda, and maybe a little baking soda paste to get stains out of your canvas. Either that or own it and let the world know Yeah, I bled to make this, muthascratchers. Deal or get out.

A Respite From Everything Being Terrible

Know who will always make my day better? Yuko¹ & Ananth², that’s who. Johnny Wander may focus on stories other than autobio for now, but everything those crazy kids touch is great. And last night, they announced a project in keeping with the Kickstarter Make 100 manifesto that I must point you towards.

Presenting the Tarot Riso Printset, a collection of three tarot deck images (if I make them out correctly, Strength, Death, and Temperance) by Ota, done via risograph for that old-school look combined with modern digital convenience and cost efficiency.

Ota’s been creating tarot images in her jewelry designs for a while, and those who want a nice big version of her graphic design (bigger is better than the pendant sizes because you can enjoy it at length without staring at somebody’s chest like a creeper) now have the perfect vehicle to satisfy their itch for pretty things.

As of this writing, 35 of the 100 limited rewards have been claimed. Designs are done, paper’s bought, risograph time arranged. Campaign ends in ten days and the check clears, the spend an afternoon making prints and signing, then the shipping can begin. Quick, no fuss, and backers get an extremely limited-edition set of art prints that will never exist outside this edition of 100.

Oh, and ten minutes ago I got a package from TopatoCo — my copies of Girls With Slingshots, books 9 and 10. If you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do. Try to not let the world burn down while I’m busy.

Spam of the day:

gary.tyrrell, Interested in low in come housing?

Am I? Who isn’t? We’ll all be living there when the economy tanks!

¹ Ota.

² Hirsh.

Calling Back, And Something New

If you have room on your clothing for pins and don’t feel up to defeating the Empire today¹, you could do far worse than to fill them with a selection from Scott C’s latest offerings. You can choose any four you want from the seven on offer (I’d choose the two dogs, unicorn, and triceratops, myself) for just US$35.

Callback: You may recall that yesterday we mentioned Spike’s mini-Kickstart/for-profit customer-acquisition exercise and a good deal of discussion (both from herself and speculation on my part) about What It Meant. Turns out, there was a completely additional Meaning that slipped by me, involving a small project aesthetic:

We launched #Make100 today on @Kickstarter, w projects coming from @jeremybailey, @Iron_Spike, @the_jennitaur &more!

In case you didn’t recognize the name, Willa Köerner is the Director of Curation for Kickstarter. Keep your eye on this initiative.

Callback: You may recall that back in September we mentioned a new law in California that dealt with the sales of collectible (that is to say, autographed) merchandise over the cost of five bucks. Well, said law went into effect two days ago, and while certain terms are still only vaguely defined, the CBLDF put together an advisory about the most likely interpretations of the new ordinance.

Key points (some of which come from a clarification letter written by the law’s chief sponsor, outlining her intent): the person that autographs stuff is exempt from the provisions of the law, as are vendors that are not primarily in the business of selling collectibles (which is meant to exempt bookstores, although comic stores are not specifically mentioned). It looks like the organizers of certain conventions/shows are more on the hook for conveying the boundaries of the law to exhibitors than exhibitors are for researching things themselves; for now, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that independent creators are not in danger of being penalized.

Callback: You may recall that back in March of 2000-damn-6 we mentioned Tyler Page’s Nothing Better for the first time; it’s a story that’s sometimes been backburnered while Page was working on other things (not the least being the recently-concluded and printed Raised on Ritalin), but has never gone away. The girls of St Urho University are still there a decade-plus later, and it’s time to print the third volume of Nothing Better to join the first two.

Thus, Page has made his announcement that it’s time to start looking at your 2017 budget to decide whether or not you can squeeze this book into your purchases. Hint: you want to squeeze this book into your purchases. But don’t panic, you don’t have to commit just yet:

I will be launching a Kickstarter for the next Nothing Better book within the next couple of weeks. STAY TUNED! In the meantime, read Nothing Better!

Yes, read it. It’s really, really good, and shows the growth of Page as a cartoonist on just about every, uh, page.

Spam of the day:

My previous post about the financials of creator-owned comics in mainstream retail paints a pretty bleak picture. The risk is high for retailers, creators and publishers, profit margins are thin and making your new comic stand out in a crowded marketplace full of worldwide pop culture icons is an uphill battle at best.

This is … this is the very best machine-generated text meant to slip through spam filters by appearing to be on-topic that I’ve ever encountered. I’m actually impressed, and more than a little concerned that a few more years and I won’t be needed around these parts anymore. We can just get whatever Markhov engine spit this out to post in my stead.

¹ No pressure! We can’t each fight every fight every day! We have to pace ourselves or the other side will turn our exhaustion to their advantage.

Ramping Up And Waiting

I found pictures of bigger piles, but I've got that pair of Merrells on the left there. Public domain photo via GoodFreePhotos.

I was going to say that a whole day down and 2017 isn’t too bad, but then I remembered that there have been mass shootings and car bombings and realized my sensitivity level with respect to atrocities may need recalibration. Let’s just focus on a couple of small, good things while we’re all waiting for a shipping container’s worth of shoes to drop.

  • Last night, Spike over at Iron Circus determined what may have been the absolute lower time limit for a successful Kickstarter: 53 minutes.

    Let me explain.

    Spike had been teasing through the weekend that a Kickstarter would be going up sometime on the 1st; subscribers to the Iron Circus newsletter would know the time of launch, the rest of us would have to keep our eyes peeled. Timing would be critical, as there was just one reward available, and it was limited to 100 backers. Whatever the reward was, it would only be available now, with no future sales.

    At 9:00pm EST, the campaign (for a US$15 enamel pin, from Carla Speed McNeil’s design) went live, with a seven day run time. At 9:53pm EST, the last pin was claimed. There was still 6 days, 23 hours, and 7 minutes to go; there’s no mechanism on Kickstarter to end the campaign, aside from cancellation.

    Spike’s subsequent tweets revealed that as much as a fun, tiny project, this pin was an object lesson: trying for mega-success on your project can not only lead to a nigh-unfulfillable nightmare, but is wildly improbable to succeed in the first place. A small success is still success.

    But thinking on it today, I can see another way to look at it. Lots of people follow Spike on the Sosh-Meeds, more than 20,000 on Twitter along; but I’ll wager far fewer of them were part of Iron Circus’s email list. From personal experience, signing up for an email newsletter has a lot of inertia around it — I’m slow to sign up, and even when I never pay attention to the emails that pop up in my inbox, even slower to unsubscribe.

    In her tiny, little project, Spike picked up some number of new advertising targets, and it cost her nothing. The cost to acquire an email address is remarkably hard to nail down, but this was a no-lose situation: if the Kickstarter failed, she got her email signups at zero cost; if it succeeded, she got her email signups and so far has made a US$1342 profit on the deal¹.

    And so there’s one hell of a business lesson to be learned², and I sincerely hope that all looking to increase their customer contact lists will learn it. Find a small thing that you want for yourself, that your audience will want, and drum up the interest. Be small, fast, ruthless … all Edge, a behavior seen in the likes of Mr Stevens and Ms Spike, and you’ll be in damn good company.

  • Those of you in the Bay Area have a webcomics event to add to your respective social calendars: Jeffrey C Wells and Shaenon Garrity have a new Skin Horse book out, and with the Kickstarter backers all fulfilled (I got my copy a few weeks back), it’s time for public sales. And that means launch party:

    Hey, a party! I’m throwing a book release party for Skin Horse Volume 6 at the wonderful Borderlands Books in San Francisco on Saturday, January 14. Expect books, cupcakes, and wine.

    Borderlands (located at 866 Valencia Street, in the city of Saint Francis) is a legendary shop; by longstanding precedent, expect the cupcakes to be delicious and the wine to come in boxes. Fun starts at 3:00pm PST and goes until all the fun has been had or Garrity decides she needs tiki drinks.

Spam of the day:

Press ahead and empower images to scan all pictures.

You’re offering Asian mail-order brides; please don’t use the word empower.

¹ Per this tweet, the US$770 goal was the cost of the run of pins; she’s raised US$2112 (there may have been as many as two backers sneaking in over the 100 limit due to timing, and one person has pledged an unknown amount at the “no reward/tip cup” tier). Spike’s done waaaay too many Kickstarts to not have priced in an appropriate amount for shipping, and at this point “only” 100 envelopes is a trivial amount of labor.

² There’s a second lesson to be learned, if a few more campaigns like this happen to provide a few more data points. This is the sort of situation that would let a clever person reverse-engineer the Kicktraq trend algorithm. That curve is going to decay in a very interesting fashion.