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150 episodes in, and the Wait, What? podcast is undertaking a huge shift. No, it’s not relaunching, although it is spinning off in a whole new direction, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Why? Well, because hosts Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan, who have spent the last few years dissecting and reviewing all kinds of comics on a fortnightly basis, are moving the site to a base of its own, and running it under their own steam. Formerly hosted by the Savage Critics website, Wait What will now be hosted on its own website, run by the pair.
Alongside the move, the pair have set up a Patreon in support of their podcast, which you can see here. The Patreon, which I’d suggest is one of the first times that comic critics have established a crowdfunding page of their own, has been a tremendous success thus far. They’ve hit several of their target goals, meaning that on top of the fortnightly podcast they will also be writing reviews for their site, and populating it with content.
Considering that both are established writers in their own right – Lester has written extensively for Savage Critics, whilst McMillan writes for Wired, Time, The Hollywood Reporter and more – that’s pretty good news. And on top of everything else? The podcast is teaming up with Oily Comics for a giveaway which is going on RIGHT NOW.
To find out more about all their plans, I spoke to them both about how the podcast got started, how it runs, and what we can expect in future months.
Steve: How did you two meet, to begin with?
Graeme: We met because I ripped Jeff off. That’s maybe not completely true — Jeff and I both knew Brian Hibbs, who owns San Francisco’s Comix Experience store and we’ve both worked for him at various times in our lives — but when I created the Fanboy Rampage!!! blog those many years ago, I subconsciously ripped the name off from the monthly column Jeff wrote for the Comix Experience newsletter.
It was so subconscious that, when Jeff got in touch to politely ask if I’d done it, my first response was “Of course I didn’t, what are you talking about?” It was my first experience with riding on Jeff’s coattails, but not my last.
Jeff: Mine is the Fanboy Rampage of Earth Two: technically, it came first, but it’s mostly a footnote to Graeme’s. I’m just glad I get to team up with him more frequently than once a year and I don’t have to have the rest of the JSA in tow.
Steve: When did the idea for Wait, What come about? Were you aware of other comic podcasts around, and wanted to get involved yourselves?
Graeme: The short version is, we wanted an excuse to talk comic stuff to each other. I was definitely aware of other comic podcasts, but not that many. We started five years ago, and I want to say I was only really aware of something like Word Balloon at the time? Definitely nothing as conversational or, for that matter, honest as what Wait, What? is.
Jeff: We actually owe a debt of gratitude to David Brothers, who as I recall shamed Graeme into finally buying the headset so we could actually start recording. And David’s 4th Letter podcast with Gavin Jasper and Esther Inglis-Arkell, along with Funnybook Babylon, were the first real podcasts I checked out. But Graeme was way more aware of other comic podcasts than I am—between having a really short commute and an inability to multitask, I can’t keep up—and that’s pretty much been the case ever since.
Steve: How did you develop the style of the show? Was the interest always in having a show which could run at length, and talk about any aspect of comics you wanted?
Graeme: The style of the show developed… unintentionally? I think that’s fair to say. When it first started, it was far more organized and compact than it’s become. We used to edit the longer conversations into shorter episodes, so that one session might make two or three episodes, but there was something about that that felt very artificial, and arbitrary — and also problematic, when we’d refer back to things that we’d said earlier that conversation, but two episodes back to the listener. It’s been a slow evolution, and one that’s reflected our learning curve as podcasters.
Jeff: We were very lucky to get feedback early on from listeners, and enough of them preferred the more organic approach of a longer conversation. It gave us the courage to really commit to that approach. Sometimes I worry it makes it difficult for new listeners to start listening to us—it seems like it’s asking for a big commitment up-front, but we have dedicated listeners who occasionally say things like, “man, if you just did three hours every other week, that’d be perfect!” And I think Graeme and I enjoy the freedom now, even if it still makes us feel “unprofessional.”
Steve: Being a completely visual medium, you’d think comics wouldn’t translate well to podcasts. Was it difficult, especially to begin with, to find ways to talk about them?
Graeme: It’s still difficult. We’re still guilty of concentrating more on the writing than the art, although having the website to post images/artwork when we’re commenting on a panel or sequence in particular has been a great help. I was going to say, it’s no different from writing about art, but that’s not true: depending on where you’re writing for, there’s the chance to feature the images RIGHT THERE beside the text, so it’s immediately put in context. You can’t do that on a podcast (or, at least, an audio podcast).
Jeff: Unfortunately, talking about the visual elements in comics and the artist’s role as a creator in Big Two bullpen-style comics is something a lot of comics criticism on the web has been kinda terrible at? Speaking for myself, that comes from having learned from my literature classes to talk—in a rudimentary way, at least—about what the writing and storytelling might be doing, but having far fewer tools for talking about, I dunno, what the artist is achieving by using a foreshortened perspective.
I think the podcast makes it easier for me to talk about the visual elements because I can do so conversationally, imprecisely, in a way I’d be too self-conscious to do in print. And it helps that Graeme will either help me out when I’m not making sense, or mock me for his own amusement. It’s a win-win situation…at least for him.
Steve: Do you think that the podcast has improved your ability to talk and analyse comics in general?
Graeme: Talking to Jeff has, more than doing the podcast, if that makes sense? He approaches things in a way that I just don’t, and it’s helped me appreciate what I’ve been reading more, and also question my assumptions on any given text.
Jeff: Yeah, I’d agree with that. Definitely. Although I think the standards are changing overall about how to talk about comics—there’s been a real push from online writers to change things up, and I think that’s helped me a lot as well.
Steve: How has the podcast developed over the years? Do you think you’ve changed as time has gone on – moved away from certain companies, moved towards certain kinds of stories, and so on?
Graeme: To an extent? As I said earlier, we started doing shorter episodes that were segments of longer conversations, and now listeners generally get the longer conversations more or less complete. Part of that’s being more comfortable doing what we do, but there’s also an element of us just KNOWING what we’re doing more now. There’s also been a bit of making mistake and then learning from them, too. I’ve said things in the past — reading into creators’ intentions, especially — that I try not to do now (Note the “try” — I still forget myself occasionally).
Jeff: I went through a couple years there where I refused to support Marvel financially, and I was worried that might modify the tenor of our conversations or what we could talk about and stay interesting. But it didn’t change things as much as I thought.
What has changed, since we started doing the podcast, is how digital has really grown as a market, and libraries carrying more graphic novels and collections than ever. I think those two factors have influenced the podcast tremendously, as it’s easier for me to stumble across material I might have missed, or to revisit material I had no interest in until it was ninety-nine cents an issue. I never would’ve ended up talking about Daddy Cool, for example, or what a thematically unified statement The Boys is for Garth Ennis, if I wasn’t able to supplement my staid comic book shop purchases with more experimentation.
Steve: A recent feature which has taken over a good hour of discussion each episode is your run-through of the Avengers books – starting right with issue #1 and tackling ten or so issues at a time. What made you want to go back and start reading and reviewing those books?
Graeme: I honestly don’t remember. I think it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and sounded like it’d be something fun and different for us to do? Jeff?
Jeff: Graeme doesn’t remember because it was his brilliant idea! I’d bought those amazing GT Corp. DVDs off eBay that contain 600 issues at a go of specific Marvel characters—Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Avengers—and I’d been moaning about how I hadn’t made any time to read them. And since Graeme also had the Avengers DVD, he said, “If we make it part of the podcast, you’ll have to read them!” And he was right. (Thank God we’re only reading the first 300 issues, though.)
Steve: Has that changed your view of the characters, or the series as a whole? Do you have a new favourite Avenger, for example?
Graeme: Not so much a new favorite Avenger — I think that’ll always be a tie between the Beast, Hawkeye or the Wasp depending on who’s writing at the time — but it was an eye-opener to go back and realize how bad the Lee/Kirby issues actually are. You think of the two working on Thor and Fantastic Four, and they’re capable of such amazing stuff, and their Avengers just doesn’t work. It’s kind of surprising how long it is until the series DOES work, to be honest — and just how quickly it all comes together when everything falls into place.
Jeff: I ended up loving The Wasp during the Stan Lee and Roy Thomas years: they both wrote her as kind of flighty (pun intended, probably) and with more than a little condescension, but she was the only one who seemed to be having anything like fun…or resembled anything like an actual human being.
Steve: Are there any types of comic you wished you spent more time on – you tend to talk about any comic you want, without a particularly heavy DC/Marvel/Image bias. But are there any comics you wish you could discuss in more detail?
Graeme: I think we talk about what we “want to” talk about — as evidenced by the amount of time we spend on 2000AD on a regular basis, or Top Shelf’s Double Barrel when that was coming out. There’re certainly comics I wish I knew more about so I could talk about them more, if that doesn’t sound too odd. I should be reading and talking about more Fantagraphics books, you know? Or Drawn & Quarterly, Nobrow, SelfMadeHero, and so on. I need to get outside of my Direct Market comfort zone more.
Jeff: Man, it can be hard to follow Graeme McMillan without just saying “Ditto!” and “What Graeme said!” after everything. As for what we cover…when the only limitations are our imaginations and our budgets, it’s not long before you get really frustrated with both.
Steve: Wait, What is particularly notable because you’re “candid”. Or, to put it another way, you don’t pretend that books are good just because everybody else says so. Do you think the ‘of the moment’ nature of podcasting allows you to offer a more honest review of comics than sitting down to write a review? Once something’s been said, you can’t so easily press the delete button?
Graeme: Yes, for better and worse. There are times I would love to take something back, but there’s a lot to be said for the immediacy of the whole thing, and the way in which it gets past a lot of the inner editor for the good, as well. Plus, having someone like Jeff to bounce half-formed ideas off, knowing that there’s something about the conversational format that gives you license to be just outright wrong is pretty great, too.
Jeff: For me, this is really where Brian Hibbs’ influence shines through: I started writing reviews for comics over at the Savage Critic website and I followed his lead in never being afraid to say what I thought. So I don’t think the “of the moment” nature of podcasting affects me, at least in that regard.
What’s great is that Graeme can point out my biases, suggest alternative readings, or just flat-out call me on my shit. Also great is that the organic nature of our podcast means I can revisit a work and talk about if my opinions change, and why. That’s an aspect of criticism that gets overlooked in the written medium—the idea that these works are part of our lives and as we age and the culture ages, what they mean to us can change.
I guess it’s easier to address how art is an ongoing conversation between the work and the beholder when you’re having a literal ongoing conversation with someone?
Steve: Do you think there can be a tendency to offer better reviews to creators you like as people, or to find conflicts of interest start to influence your discussions? Graeme, you’re always quick to let people know if you received a review copy of the books you talk about, before you talk about them.
Graeme: Am I? That’s maybe self-consciousness, rather than any intentional idea of what I should do in the name of transparency. I think there’s definitely a tendency to find yourself biased when you’ve received something for free, or know the people involved — more than once, we’ve talked about a particular comic being good for something we didn’t pay for, but not worth the official price, or something similar.
It definitely feeds into not only what you say publicly about a work, but also how you read it — but then, so does whatever mood you’re in when you read something. I’ve been incredibly guilty of writing something off when I read it the first time, then going back and having an entirely different experience when I revisit it. There’s a lot that’s in there beyond the objectivity we’re always supposed to show when we’re reviewing something.
Jeff: Damn it, Graeme! “Ditto.”
Steve: You’ve taken the podcast to Patreon and gone independent, moving away from the Savage Critics website. Was this because you wanted to take more ownership of the show?
Graeme: Yeah, and also because we wanted to do more with the show — and also see if the show could give something back to us in terms of the amount of work involved.
Jeff: To be clear, Brian was always incredibly supportive of everything we did and never put any kind of restrictions on our content or anything…but he’s also a busy guy with a lot of irons in the fire. Sometimes we couldn’t change things as fast as we’d like or feel like we could experiment easily. Or a lot of times the site would be content-light and then all of a sudden everyone would contribute at once, and I’d feel like we were stepping on toes.
Paring it down to just us—as tough a decision as that was, because I think Graeme and I are both really loyal—seemed like it would be the best way to figure out what we could do, and if people were willing to support us doing it.
Steve: What were your goals with the Patreon? What did you want to use the funds for, and have you been surprised by the response?
Graeme: The goals have always veered wildly between our natural pessimism (“It’ll be great if anyone even notices us”) and wild optimism and ego (“And then, when we’re making thousands of dollars every month!”). Realistically, we wanted to see if there was some way we could use the show as the basis for something more ambitious, which we also owned and controlled. We’ve been very, very surprised by the response. It’s way beyond what either of us were realistically thinking would happen.
Jeff: ARGHHHH. “What Graeme said.”
Steve: You’re one of the first high-profile ‘comics media’ places to take to Patreon, although I’m aware several other sites will be trying it soon. Do you think this is where comics criticism has to go, now? Fewer and fewer places are paying for digital content now.
Graeme: I’m not sure if this is where it HAS to go — I got started doing this for myself, for nothing, just to get it out there, after all, and that’s as valid an aim as ever — but it’s certainly one of the directions it can go in, especially if you’re looking to do this as a way to earn money (or even just break even from the cost of buying all those comics in the first place).
The future of paid online journalism is all over the place right now — not in terms of comic stuff, although if you think about what’s happened to Comics Alliance, iFanboy, MTV Geek and other sites over the last couple of years, that’s obviously in flux as well — but in general, there’s a lot of change and turmoil right now. No-one’s worked out what “the model” for this as a business really is, yet, and they’re still trying.
The last six months have been crazy, as someone who works in this field, and I doubt it’s going to get any less turbulent any time soon.
Art by Julia Gfrörer
Jeff : I’m super hand-wringy about the state of comics criticism: I think people can only write it for so long as a labor of love before they move on to something else, because they have to eat or the pain of feeling like such a small fish in an even smaller pond gets to them.
And although I think there’s a very good case to be made that there may not be anything to write critically about comic books that weren’t written in the first hundred issues of The Comics Journal, I feel like the two biggest impediments to comics being considered the important medium they obviously are has been an inability to keep books in print long enough to become “canon,” and our inability to have someone professionally writing about comics over the decades—without both of those things, I think every generation ends up having to re-create the wheel.
We’re finally in a situation where a canon is accumulating, and access to that canon is easier than ever. And we have Understanding Comics, and writers like Heidi and Tom Spurgeon who’ve been covering things for a stretch of time now. But I think it’s super-important to find ways for the next generation of comic critics—the people who are out there now—to get paid, and paid enough so they can think, “well, I can make a living at this—a bad living, but a living—and I really care about the art form, so maybe I should give this a shot.”
Steve: What sorts of rewards are you offering?
Jeff: Since everyone who is reading this is on the Internet already, I invite you to go to http://patreon.com/waitwhatpodcast and see!
Steve: You’ve already hit several milestones for the Patreon, and will now be writing content as well as recording the podcast. Is this your ideal for the future? That Wait, What spins into a whole, affordable website of its own?
Graeme: In a perfect world, yes. Quite how workable that would be in practice remains to be seen, of course…
Jeff: Yeah, that is totally my crazy dream: that enough people will believe in us and between that and the content we’re generating, we can get enough traffic to make something like a full-fledged comics website, one that doesn’t have to rely on exclusive previews or softball coverage. We have a few of those sites. We need more.
Also—and I know he’ll hate me for saying this—but Graeme McMillan is one of the smartest, most knowledgeable writers about both the business and artistic sides of the comics industry currently working, and I know he’s also a hell of a good editor. Who doesn’t want to see what he could build if he had the funds and the support to do so?
Steve: Does this mean, ultimately, that you’re now rivals with The Beat?
Graeme: Sure, why not. (I mean, no, not really; we don’t do a fraction of what the Beat does in reality, but professional feuds are meant to be good, right? Hey, Steve! Pixie sucks! YOU HEARD ME.)
Steve: Graeme, you are BANNED from The Beat as soon as I ask this one final thing: Where can people find you online? What are you up to at the moment?
Graeme: The podcast can be found here, and it’s on Twitter here (individually, we’re also on there as @graemem and @lazybastid). Right now, I’m typing this between deadlines for the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, where I post every weekday, and Wired.com’s entertainment vertical, because I clearly have a lot to say on the Internet.
Jeff: And I just got back from walking on the beach!
Many thanks to Jeff Lester for his time! And NO THANKS AT ALL TO GRAEME for his harsh and inaccurate and wrong and WRONG opinions regarding Pixie. You are now officially banned from The Beat, grr.
On top of the links above, you can find the new Patreon site for Wait What over here. I’m pledging myself! You’re in good company if you choose to as well.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a sale at SLG Publishing and pointed out thatit had been a pioneering publsiher in reaching new market,s targetting female readers, digital and many other areas. Alas laurel resting is swiftly rewarded with living in a cardboard box in this business, and some hard times and setbacks have hit SLG. Publisher Dan Vado has just launched afunding campaign to help the company, in his words, “get back on its feet. You can read the letter below. The amount he’s looking for is steep, $85,000, but it’s an ongoing campaign.
As Vado would be the first to admit, he made a few bad decisions along the way, but SLG is one of only a handful of companies—Fantagraphics, NBM and Dark Horse are the others—to remain from the earliest days of “indie comics publishing.” It was also, like most of the companies of the period, FOR THE MOST PART committed to creator ownership, not participation—if you think that is a good thing, throw a few bucks SLG’s way.
SLG Publishing is a San Jose, CA based comic book publishing company. Established in 1986, SLG has helped many cartoonists and comics creators start their careers.
Having weathered through three recessions and market downturns too numerous to count, SLG has long maintained an even keel through turbulent times. However the past few years a perfect storm of bad luck, bad economy and, yes, bad decisions have left the company on a terrible financial footing.
For a small business with a small staff, SLG maintains a fairly large footprint in the physical sense. Warehousing and storage account for a pretty large portion of the company’s budget.
Recently we were forced to relocate because our old building was being torn down. At the time I had a couple of choices, close up altogether or try and make a go of it somewhere else.
Not wanting to turn my back on a 28 year old business (which was struggling to begin with) I decided to try and keep going, adding a retail component to our storefront that we did not have before and add some other revenue streams to our gallery store as well as our publishing company like doing contract t-shirt printing and hosting live music. Sure, the smart thing to do was to just quit, but then publishing comics was never a really smart thing either, so go figure.
We had a line of credit, a couple of them, which I used to relocate with (this after a couple of different crowd-funding initiatives did not fund).
After running up our credit line during the move our bank decided to review our account and decided that the balance on the credit line was too high and, in their infinite wisdom, demanded immediate repayment in the form of a high-interest loan. This created a domino effect where, when reporting the change in my credit status to the various credit bureaus caused them all to cut my credit and in a couple of cases close my accounts.
Because of the nature of my businesses all of our debt was secured through personal guarantees and now I am in a spot where not only am I unable to get my business righted, but I have blown through all of my personal assets other than the home I live in to keep things going.
A simple bankruptcy for me is not an option as everything comes back to me anyway, so as much as this pains me to go this route I am asking for people’s assistance in helping me and my company get back on our feet. We are still in business right now, still trying to put out comics and are still running our gallery store and I am trying to keep both of these things running. However the revenue from comics publishing is not enough to keep us open AND pay down our debt.
We have exhausted all of the typical means of raising money, crowd-funding and sales eith pretty decent discounts being a couple of them. I am taking the GoFundMe approach because this is going to be an ongoing thing for the next couple of years. This isn’t something Kickstarter would touch anyway.
So, thanks for reading this and thanks for donating if you donate.
By: Kenneth Kit Lamug,
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, david daneman
, slice of life
, the danemen
, web comics
, Add a tag
If you’ve ever perused the online web comic community Tapastic.com, you’re sure to have seen the slice of life webcomic “The Danemen” featuring the DaneMan himself. The silent (word-less) comic transcends language through the use of visual queues that brings drama and comedy to the viewer. It’s like watching a classic Chaplin act and waiting for the finale, which never disappoints and is almost always unexpected.
In the video below, David shows us his work process and how it defines his unique style. Make sure to take notes, and don’t forget to support his Patreon campaign so he can make comics until the end of days!
Artist Al Davison, best known for his work on comics like The Unwritten, Hellblazer and The Spiral Cage, has set up a Patreon campaign this week to support his new project. Called ‘Muscle Memory’, this story is a follow-up to the autobiographical The Spiral Cage, the book which first made his name. You may have seen the project mentioned on Twitter, as he has been extensively promoting it and sharing it with fellow creators. As of today, he has only had two backers. Let’s change that.
A frequent presence at conventions over the years, Davison has been a ubiquitous and engaging presence for comics in the United Kingdom and abroad. The Spiral Cage was one of his first pieces of work, in which he wrote and drew his experiences of growing up with Spina-Bifida, a birth condition which he says was expected to kill him – and yet decades later, after over twenty-five years of making comics, he’s still going.
Having made a name for himself on a series of one-off issues of Vertigo projects like Hellblazer, House of Mystery, The Unwritten and others, he’s spent most of his time working under the alias ‘The Astral Gypsy’. Last year he released ‘The Alchemist’s Easel’, billed as being a guide to drawing the unconscious.
Muscle Memory has been a long-awaited follow up from Davison, as he talks in further depth on his life and childhood – looking at his childhood attempts to deal with disability, as well as accounts of abuse he received from his father.
I want to make it clear that this is not a story of victimization, but a story of survival and of winning against the odds. Their will inevitably be distressing scenes throughout the series, but it is also an optimistic and often funny look at my life, because that’s how I am.
One of the great talents of comics, Davison deserves as much support as the industry can offer. Please go take a look at his Patreon today.
Locust Moon Comics in Philadelphia has been putting together ran all-star anthology celebrating Winsor McCay’s LIttle Nemo with contemporary artists going nuts artistically. The above strip by David “Mouse Guard” Petersen is but one example of many jaw-droppers. The Kickstarter for the book launched Monday and has already been funded, but you will probably want a copy of it, anyway. Here some more art just to add to the persuasion.
YOu can read more about the project at the Locust Moon blog.
Roger Langridge and Jeremy Bastien
The entire comics industry wants to go humble! Humble Bundle that is! Yet another publisher has signed up for this service which allows readers to pay what they wish to download a bunch of ebooks, while supporting charity, This time the publishers is Dynamite, and they have over 120 books up for grabs—the biggest comics bundle ever—and daily free comics including, today Red Sonja #1 by Gail Simone. It’s all to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a publisher.
While I’ve been writing this story I’ve been watching the ticker go upwards — more than 300 just in the 10 minutes it took to type and check for typos. (HA) Already more than 2000 bundles have been downloaded. In keeping with the tradition of promotions hosted and arranged by Humble Bundle, Dynamite will contribute a portion of the proceeds to three important charitable organizations, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dynamite is proud to announce that, through the Humble Bundle, the following titles will be available to purchasers at a price they personally determine. While full descriptions can be found at the Humble Bundle website, it’s noteworthy to point out the high caliber of contributing authors in this assortment: Warren Ellis (Planetary, Moon Knight), Grant Morrison (Batman, Happy!), Tim Seeley (Batman: Eternal), Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hulk), Mark Millar (Kick Ass, Ultimates), Amanda Hocking (of the paranormal Hollowland series), Bryan Johnson and Walter Flanagan (stars of AMC TV’s Comic Book Men show), and much more.
• Amanda Hocking’s The Hollows: A Hollowland Graphic Novel (Multiple Issues)
• Chaos #1
• Cryptozoic Man (Multiple Issues)
• The Mocking Dead Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• My Little Phony: A Brony Adventure
• Project Superpowers Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 1: Grant Morrison & Mark Millar (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 2: Warren Ellis (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Vs. Fluffy
AND — when you pledge more than the average you get these books!
• George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call (Multiple Issues)
• Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry #1
• Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet Vol. 2 (Multiple Issues)
• Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure (Multiple Issues)
• Pathfinder Vol. 1: Dark Waters Rising (Multiple Issues)
• Red Sonja Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 4: Alan Moore (Multiple Issues)
AND to those who exceed a a fixed pricing threshold, you get over 1000 pages of beautiful art with
• The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross
• Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Complete Series (35 Issues)
Let’s see how big this one gets, shall we?
We round out this Kickstarter Power Hour with a Thrillbent series which’ll be coming to print if it makes the Kickstarter goal. Written by Trevor Mueller and drawn by Gabriel Bautista Jr, Albert the Alien is an all-ages graphic novel looking for $8000 to make funding.
Albert is Earth’s first intergalactic exchange student, arriving to Earth to help bridge the cultural gaps between his planet and our own. Finding Earth to be a place where we have strange school social structures, bullies, nerds, jocks and all kinds of other groups, Albert sets about making school life a strange and amazing adventure for everybody to get involved in.
Having originally published over at their website, the creative team brought Albert and his world to Thrillbent more recently, and are now looking to publish the first 100 pages – and some new, Kickstarter-exclusive content – as a print book. Suitable for all ages, I’ve been reading up on his stories over at the site myself, and can verify that this is absolutely suitable for anybody at all but especially aliens, non-aliens, and everybody who doesn’t fit into those two descriptors. It’s brilliantly funny, packed with jokes, and filled with a genuine warmth for the characters.
Albert himself is an utterly infectious character, and I would love if we could see him head to print. This is absolutely EXACTLY the sort of comic we should all be reading. Smart, addicting, good-hearted and brilliantl put together, Albert the Alien is a wonderful comic. And you can find it here!
By: Kenneth Kit Lamug,
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, all-ages adventure comic
, crowd funding
, graphic novel
, talbot toluca
, where's waldo
, Add a tag
Las Vegas, NV May 29, 2014 – Two weeks ago, award-winning children’s picture book author and illustrator Kenneth Lamug launched a Kickstarter campaign for his newest book,The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca.
This adventure book aims to reignite the all-ages genre by combining the high-impact visuals of comics while engaging the reader with Where’s Waldo-like hidden-object games, mazes and puzzles. The story follows a group of friends who must save their science professor by travelling through different dimensions and battling the robotic minions of evil scientist Dr. Kadoom.
“This campaign has definitely been an adventure all of its own,” says Lamug. “We’ve been lucky enough to have a great launch and consistent pace. Friends and social media have made a huge impact on getting the word out. Now we just have to make it across the finish line.”
New add-on rewards and incentives have been added for current and future backers, including exclusive art prints and free domestic shipping. Backers who wish to be part of the book as a character can still pledge under the Monster Package.
Currently, the project is 75% funded with less than two weeks to go, ending on June 10th.
For more information visit the Kickstarter campaign athttp://kck.st/1skCg51
is doing some crowdfunding
so that they can continue to pay contributors and not charge readers. Not only am I in favor of paying contributors and keeping material free for readers, I'm also a fan of Interfictions
in all its various incarnations, since many of my friends and writers I admire have appeared there, are editors there, etc. And I'm not entirely selfless in passing on the appeal: I had a story
in the first Interfictions
anthology, and I've got a story coming out in a future issue of Interfictions Online
You don't have to be selfless, either, though, because there are various items offered to people who give money, including a great set of new e-book anthologies.
Well, this crowdfunder hardly needs my help as its already at more than $100K and it made it’s $30,000 goal in an hour or so, but danm Augie and the Green Knight: A Children’s Adventure Book looks pretty. It’s a collaboration between Zachary Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) and French comics master Boulet and it aims to be a forgeously produced children’s fairy tale book. And judging by the illustrations it will be.
I’ve sure everyone active in the Kickstarter community already knows this, but just to lay it out for the comics crowd, the massive crowdfunding site just announced a MAJOR overhaul of their rules: there are now far fewer of them, and many projects that were previously banned are now not. Still no charities, and a couple other things but there are only three guidelines now:
Projects must create something to share with others.
Projects must be honest and clearly presented.
Projects cannot fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items.
KS also now has two paths to going live: you can go through a Community Manager who will help you with your project, as they always did, or just hit Launch Now, and go frictionless. The Launch Now feature has some algorithms in place that will check to see whether your campaign is road worthy, but otherwise press and pay.
The Verge has more analysis of the move, saying they were made to compete more with Indiegogo, which is kind of anything goes, and allows more kinds of projects, although Kickstarter still has a higher funding rate.
If the history of the company were divided into eras, Strickler would say there are roughly four. The first would be 2002 to 2009, Before Kickstarter, when Strickler and his co-founders Perry Chen and Charles Adler were dreaming up the site. The second would be 2009 to March of 2012, Before Double Fine — the first “blockbuster” project that collected more than $3 million for a video game and raised expectations for funding levels. The next would be After Double Fine, which saw the famous “Kickstarter is not a store” blog post and a number of multimillion-dollar projects.
This would be a new one, Strickler says. We’ll call it the Mature Era. The site is “the premier place” for crowdfunded projects, Strickler says, and the company boasts a brand recognition and community of repeat backers not found on other sites. Even though Indiegogo has surpassed it in size, Kickstarter’s campaigns are much more likely to meet their goals and have raised more money total.
So yep, there will soon be more and more things for you to spend money on. OF course there will always be people who pretend to be honest and aren’t…so the human factor will still come into play time and again.
Todd Allen – you know, the guy from this very website? – is taking his first project to Kickstarter. And true to form, not only will he be running the Kickstarter campaign himself… he’ll also be blogging about it. This is ‘The Economics of Digital Comics’.
Notable not just for offering you the chance to see what Todd really looks like, the campaign is for a new book he’s writing in which he delves into digital comics. Having written for Publishers Weekly for a long time, there aren’t many people who know as much as Todd does about comics retailing, and this whole new world of Kickstarters, webcomics, crowdfunding and Patreons could use a little explaining.
The Kickstarter has already crushed the goal, meaning if you jump onboard the Todd Allen train you’re guaranteed to get yourself a copy of the book. Hurrah!
Danielle Corsetto’s Girls with Slingshots webcomic has been a decade-long success, collected into 7 print editions over the years and amassing a huge audience around the world. So to celebrate, she’s chosen to go on a road trip across America, meeting fans and taking part in signings.
She’ll be hitting a few comic-cons along the way, and has a fairly exhaustive tour diary already planned out. To help fund the trip she’s headed to Kickstarter, where she’s offering books, prints, all kinds of merchandise and comics goodness for anybody who takes part. And she’s already hit her target, once more! You lot really don’t waste time on these Kickstarters, do you?
While she’s gone, guest artists will be taking over her site for a few weeks, offering their own takes on the characters. Find out more about the plans on the Kickstarter page!
Vera Greentea is back once more for a seventh shot at Kickstarter, having enjoyed success with every single one of her last campaigns. And she’s returning with Allison Strom once more for a third issue of her series ‘Recipes of the Dead’.
A series about a young, struggling baker who accidentally whips up a magical recipe which starts attracting her all kinds of trouble, the series mixes fantasy, magic, demons, romance – all the things every comic could do with more of. And the series features gorgeous, lush, expressive artwork from Strom, a brilliant talent whose every issue is somehow an improvement on the last.
Having already hit the funding target, the third issue will now get to go into production, with Greentea able to pay Strom for all 22 pages of the comic. Any extra money now will go into enhancing the book, as well as helping Greentea head across to NYCC so she can launch the book there. Lucky NYCC.
Issue #3 is expected to be completed around September. To find out more, head to the Kickstarter page!
By: Kenneth Kit Lamug,
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, how to make a kickstarter video
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Check out the new video trailer for Quest For The Ore Crystals. This will be part of a larger video as I launch the crowdfunding project for The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca. Make sure to go to the web site and sign-up and I’ll send out an email and let you know when we’re ready!
And here’s a different kind of trailer… the kids and myself just goofing around.
While writing the previous item, I played around with the Kickstarter stat page, to see how comics are doing—and they are doing very well! While comics crowdfunding projects have the second lowest number of projects—3,944. one tenth that of the top category, film and video with 34,985—they have the fourth highest success rate! Here’s the top four:
Dance — 1,856 projects 70.35% funded
Theater — 5,933 projects 64.37% funded
Music – 28,939 projects 55.24% funded
Comics — 3,944 projects 49.64% funded
Other states: Comics have raised $27.40 million in total dollars, $24.31 million going towards successful projects, $2.06 million to unsuccessful ones.
These stats are about the same as the last time we looked at this, so I think you could say this is a pretty stable pattern by now.
You can play around with all the other stats on the page (Todd? Torsten?) involving money levels and more. For instance here’s a tough one: there are 18 comics projects that made it to the last percentile — 80-99% funded— but still missed out. Close but no vape pen!
This went out last week but I haven’t seen it noted too much in comics circles: Kickstarter has added subcategories to the various main categories for projects. 94 subcategories were added, to aid both creators and backers in finding suitable projects.
There are five subcategories in comics:
You can access the new categories by going here and clicking on comics.
Clicking around, I found 15 anthologies, 19 comic books, 10 events, 19 graphic novels and 10 webcomics. This only reflects the projects tat have been categorized however, as there are dozens of currents comics Kickstarters running, including the successful Study Group one I nabbed the illo from.
If you were a reader of Cerebus, Dave Sim’s highly eccentric and yet amazing 300 issue comic, you that one thing Sim was good at was long, long text pages. (Sometimes too long.) It seems that he’s now transferred his voluble nature to the Moment of Cerebus blog, despite his avoidance of the internet, where he goes on (and on) at length about the digital archiving process of Cerebus. I think. It seems that the first attempts at doing this did not go so well, at least as far as I can gather. And he now has a big printing bill to pay off. To help do so he’s launched a Kickstarter for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE by Dave Sim which will be an Artist’s Edition type portfolio of 10 Cerebus pages with commentary and…stuff. I think this is the clearest explanation of what this is, although there is also a FAQ:
CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE folio will be signed and numbered based on the final number of copies pledged for when the one-month Kickstarter campaign has ended. The “500 available” is a very unlikely upper maximum number. All proceeds will go towards the Restoration and Preservation of the CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY volumes. Additional funds (if any) will go towards the Restoration and Preservation of future volumes, starting with the 1200-page CHURCH & STATE and READS.
There will be a new Kickstarter campaign every quarter for each successive release of a CEREBUS ARCHIVE FOLIO.
Although doing this 10 pages at a time will take 100 years, what is life without the impossible?
The Kickstarter has already made its modest $800 (CND) goal, but I guess there’s a big bill to be paid. And the pages are beautiful. No one ever said they weren’t.
Previous Cerebus Kickstarters were also very complex — what WAS that Audio Cerebus thing anyway?—and this one is too. But, if you like Cerebus you’ll probably have the smarts to figure it out.
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OHR Editors’ Note: In April, we put out a call for oral history bloggers. We originally planned to run submissions starting this summer. However, we were so excited by the response that we decided to kick things off a bit early. Enjoy the first of many volunteer posts to come!
By Shanna Farrell
The cocktail is an American invention and was defined in 1806 as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” Cocktail culture took root on the West Coast around the Gold Rush; access to a specific set of spirits and ingredients dictated by trade roots, geography, and agriculture helped shape the West Coast cocktail in particular. We in UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) are beginning a new oral history project about the legacy of the West Coast cocktail, which will explore the cultivation of the West Coast cocktail’s identity and how it has contributed to the return of bartending as a respectable profession. We consider documenting bar culture important, especially because of the current explosion of cocktail bars around the country. However, due to the nature of the topic, this project won’t qualify for academic or grant funding. ROHO has instead had to look for non-traditional funding opportunities, which has presented us with a set of complications that we had yet to experience.
The people involved in the bar and spirit industry have a unique perspective on the ways in which American life has unfolded and intersected around cocktails. When I first began developing this project I reached out to famed bartender Dale DeGroff, cocktail historian and journalist David Wondrich, and PUNCH co-founders Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau for their insight in identifying interview themes and potential narrators. They are all now serving as our project advisors. We conducted pilot interviews with three Bay Area-based female bartenders and recorded four hours with Wondrich himself. Even early on, themes of community, labor, gender, ethnicity, geography, culinary influence, storytelling and myth making, the dissemination of information, state laws and regulations, bartender/customer relationships, and popular culture have emerged. We hope to interview at least thirty people, including bar owners, bartenders, craft spirit distillers, and cocktail historians, to further unpack these topics.
As the project lead, I’ve encountered various issues planning and rolling out the project, especially because of funding. In an attempt to involve the cocktail community, garner interest in the project, and draw people into ROHO’s archives, we decided to raise money through crowdfunding. We’ve been working for several months to get administrative approval, build out partnerships and out network, choose engaging content from our pilot interviews, and build a project website. This has taken a lot of time and though we are optimistic about the success of the campaign, using this funding mechanism is a risk. We are up against a hard deadline to deliver a large amount of content at campaign’s launch on 3 June 2014 and during its following five-week run.
Crowdfunding campaigns usually have a short video (two to three minutes) explaining the concept of the project, the need for financial support, and establishing its legitimacy. We also need to deliver regular updates throughout the five weeks of the campaign to keep our audience interested in the project. This requires pulling clips from interviews that illustrate the project’s exciting topics and themes. For example, we have one story about how Wondrich discovered that pre-Prohibition cocktail recipes called for Holland gin, which is essentially flavored whiskey not readily available in the United States until the past few years, instead of London dry gin, which is flavored vodka and has dominated the domestic gin market for the past twenty years. This proved to be a revelation for Wondrich while writing the hugely influential book Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar (Perigee Trade, 2007).
Once the campaign is over we will need to share completed interviews with the public as soon as we can to demonstrate that we are using contributions for the intended purpose; this is critical for the project’s reputation if we plan to use this fundraising method in the future. Content will have to be continuously created and sent to narrators for quick approval, which can be difficult due to schedules, file compatibility, and familiarity with technological mediums. Getting clips to narrators in a timely fashion has necessitated our use of free cloud-based technology, such as SoundCloud and Vimeo. Thus far, we have created private tracks on SoundCloud and private channels on Vimeo to share the files in a fast and easily accessible way.
This project will serve as a test for ROHO in many ways: will we be able to produce content, get it to our narrators for approval, and share it publically on a timeline that keeps our audience engaged? Will long-term use of various media outlets like SoundCloud and Vimeo prove successful? Will funders feel satisfied with the level of accessibility of the interviews? Time will tell how the project and its various set of challenges will unfold, but we hope to use digital age techniques to work around the challenges which crowdfunding has presented.
Shanna Farrell is an oral historian in UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office. She holds an MA in Oral History from Columbia University, an Interdisciplinary MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, and a BA in Music from Northeastern University. Aside from her current project on the legacy of the West Coast cocktail, her studies have focused on environmental justice issues in communities impacted by water pollution. Her work includes a community history of the Hudson River, a documentary audio piece entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing: An Oral History” that explored the complexity of issues involved in drilling for natural gas, a study that examined the local politics of “Superfunding” the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, and a landscape study of a changing neighborhood in South Brooklyn.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OHR editors.
The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow their latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.
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Image credit: a midori sour on ledge over looking Coronado bay and San Diego. © AndrewHelwich via iStockphoto.
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We round out the Kickstarter Power Hour with a look at the story of the world’s greatest pirate – who also happens to be a twelve year old girl.
Strangebeard is written and drawn by Kelly Tindall – and when I say that, I mean that it’s been COMPLETELY written and drawn, and is all ready to go. Tindall is looking for $4500 in total to fund the project, and is now under $100 away from the target.
The series tells the story of Jenny Brigham, a young girl who, on the night of her 12th birthday, is possessed by the spirit of notorious pirate Augustus Strangebeard. Gaining amazing pirate-powers in the process, she takes to the high seas for a series of ridiculous and wonderful adventures which see her taking on talking dogs, vampires, and wizards.
Collecting together the first year of stories from Tindall’s webseries, the Kickstarter is looking to bring Strangebeard’s adventures to print – and you can find out more here.
Let’s continue this power hour of Kickstarting comics by turning to Modern Times, a new publication looking to mix journalism, comics, and photography.
By Olivier Kugler
Set up by Katherine Hearst and featuring contributors including Isabel Greenberg, Jess Ruliffson, Tom Humberstone and Fionnuala Doran, Modern Times is looking to fund a first print run. The first issue appears to be completely mapped out by this point, and will be themed around a discussion of housing, and issues relating to it. Written articles will feature alongside comics journalism, to create a multimedia periodical which looks at politics in the UK and Ireland.
By Madeline Swift
The project is looking for £1000 to launch the first issue, and if successful will be looking for submissions for the second issue, which would then follow on.
The webcomic series Strong Female Protagonist has a Kickstarter running to take the series to print, and has already crushed the original target funding harder than Godzilla stamping on innocent civilians. From the creative team of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, the funding for the project is currently somewhere above the $20000 range, after they asked for $8000.
Blimey. The power of webcomics strikes once more, for this series about a superpowered hero called Alison Green who used to spend her days pummelling villains and beating up evil robots. But one day she fights a mindreading enemy who shows her evidence of some far bigger problems out there which can’t be solved through punching – and Alison goes on a journey of discovery.
Living in New York, she spends her time trying to live a socially-conscious day life, but finds that supercrime keeps finding her. Struggling to maintain her regular life, sort out her worldview, AND punch up monsters, the series is a brilliantly realised look at the unexpectedly tangled life of a superhero.
And hey, this comes Beat-approved, as Hannah picked it for one of her favourite webcomics.
They’ve already hit their target, but you can take a look for yourself by heading here!
Let’s spend an hour showcasing some of the excellent-looking comic Kickstarters which are currently underway, eh? Recent statistics suggest that the success rate for comic book Kickstarter campaigns is somewhere around 50%, meaning that this medium is the most successful on the site. Go comic fans! Now let’s push that even higher by supporting some new campaigns.
Cover by Tristan Jones and Doug Garbark
Such as Toe Tag Riot, from the creative team of Matt Miner, Sean Von Gorman, and John Rauch. This is a four-issue miniseries, and the Kickstarter campaign is to fund the artistic team completing the issues themselves. The concept is of a zombie comic, but one where the zombies are our heroes – because they’re going to use their brain-eating skills to head over to the Westborough Baptist Church and go eat some homophobes.
So, yes, immediately a somewhat controversial pitch for a series, admittedly. The story sees an aspiring punk band cursed so that they turn into zombies whenever they play a concert – with the curser not quite realising that this is actually beneficial to the band’s cause, because punk fans LOVE zombies. Their curse launches them to fame, but also forces them to make some questionable ethical choices such as “whose brains are we ALLOWED to eat?”
Their decision? To go eat racists, homophobes, sexists and the like – One Million Moms and the Westborough Baptist Church both head up on their hit-list as they travel the country, playing gigs and eating brains along the way.
Looking for a target of $19000 to fund the entire miniseries in one go, the project can be found here.
From editor Can Yalcinkaya comes an anthology of stories from upcoming and established Turkish creators, following the story of the 2013 Uprising in Turkey. Focusing on the side of the Turkish resistance, this is a collection of books which develops and establishes Turkish culture and society for an international audience – a political book which is focused primarily on entertaining.
Featuring a number of distinct and impressive creators, the anthology will see work from artists including Okan Bubul (whose cover for the project is above), as well as Sumeyye Kesgin (below).
Aiming for a funding target of $5000 Australian dollars, the project is currently reaching the $2000-mark after only a few days of being active. It’s not often that you find somebody publishing an anthology of Turkish comic – it’s well worth taking a look at this project, and pledging if you find it interesting.
Art by Murat Gurdal Akkoc
I thought this excerpt from their Kickstarter description was particularly of note:
You might think, “I have no connection to Turkey, why should I be interested in something that’s happening over there?” or “this book would be too culturally specific for me”.
We see our project as part of a larger global movement, which has universal themes. From the Arab world, to the US, from Turkey to Brazil, there is a growing restlessness. We would like a better future, where our basic rights, well-being, and environment have more priority over corporate interests. We would like to see people of the world unite beyond their national borders and work for equal rights and opportunities for all.
Our comics reflect our worldview. We tell stories that relate to the human condition, and we use genres and tropes that would be familiar to readers all around the world. Our comics aren’t inaccessible, and we will also provide some context for what has been happening in Turkey by providing notes and timelines.
By supporting our project, you will also be supporting comic art in Turkey. There aren’t many opportunities for Turkish comic artists to publish their works. We are happy to introduce the works of some talented artists to an English reading audience.
You can find the Kickstarter here.
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The power of the Kickstarter Power Hour is that you never know when it’ll happen! And here we are, bank holiday Monday, with a whole load of new and exciting crowdfunding projects to tell you about. Let’s start with a just-funded book from the creative team of Van Jensen and Jose Pimienta, ‘The Leg’.
You may know Van Jensen from, well, The Beat, where he’s written before. He’s also currently handling one of the best DC titles, Green Lantern Corps, and has just taken over The Flash. The Leg marks the arrival of a decade-in-the-making story, with a bizarre central premise. The first ever comic script he wrote, The Leg has been in the works for several years now, as Jensen and artist Pimienta worked on putting the project together.
Telling the story of a sentient leg on a revenge mission (the sentient leg of Santa Anna, no less), this is a massively surreal, wonderfully drawn and coloured story which is never anything less than thoroughly surprising. President Santa Anna was wounded in battle during The Pastry War in Mexico, and lost his leg to cannon fire. The leg was subsequently buried with full military honours (really).
However, when the people rebelled against Santa Anna, they dug up the leg, dragged it through the streets, and abandoned it in a ditch. Jensen and Pimienta’s story picks up several years later, as the leg – now sentient – learns of a new threat to Mexico, and embarks on a revenge mission which could finally redeem Santa Anna for his previous wrongdoings.
Looking for $10000, the project has just passed the funding mark – you can find it here.