Wednesday March 6, 2013
Because some of you might be tired of hearing about the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter, and because I feel a distinct need to pay forward some of the love you've shown me, there's another project I'd like to call your attention to.
Stripped is a documentary from Fred Schroeder and Dave Kellett. It covers comic strips, and very thoroughly explores the state of the industry today, a state which is at least in part defined by the disruption of the world of print by the increased consumption of online media. It's full of great interviews (including one with me) and I've just learned that the legendary-and-legendarily-reclusive Bill Watterson even recorded a voice-only interview.
Dave and Fred ran a Kickstarter a couple of years ago to finish production, but they recently ran into a snag. Some of the footage necessary to tell the story properly has to be licensed, and some of the license-holders want big, fat, four-figure checks. If you check out the project page you can see exactly what they're going to be spending this round of funding on.
Look at the page, play the video samples there, and decide for yourselves. I've pledged $100 to the project, not because I desperately want the ebooks or the poster (I will happily accept both!) but because I want the project to succeed. I believe "Stripped" is the single most important piece of reporting, writing, or documenting my industry has ever seen, or will ever see. If anything "better" is ever made, it will be made about the industry mine evolves into, and it will be completely different.
Sunday March 3, 2013
As of this writing the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter has funded at over 4,700% of the original $1800 goal. Apparently I'm making something that a tiny percentage of you really, really want.
I say tiny percentage -- if Google Analytics is to believed, roughly 150,000 people read Schlock Mercenary each month. With fewer than 1,500 backers, the project represents less than 1% of that crowd. See? TINY.
The next stretch goal is about $15,000 away, and it's a spot of community service. Sandra and I will collect and compile as much historical and anecdotal information about challenge coins and their associated traditions and create a document, freely available, which will help everybody understand them. I am not an authority on the subject, and I will never claim to be. My job is to interview the authorities, and present their stories. Okay, AND draw spot illustrations and single panel comics. If you've ever had to use the "one step and arm's reach" rule, you already know where the low-hanging fruit is.
But, as alluded above, roughly 99% of your don't appear to have taken a shine to owning challenge coins. Perhaps I can interest you in a new tradition?
This coin is available in the bundles with other coins, but also separately. You can get one with the "I'm just here for the monkeys" $15 pledge, two for the $25 pledge, or six for the "Company Mess" pledge. These coins have at least two uses:
This thing you walked in on? Not your circus, not your monkeys. Totally not your problem. You feel a little bad walking away from it, so you hand the person who owns the circus a coin, and run for the door. It's like a get out of jail free card.
Did somebody just walk in on your circus, and help you prevent your monkeys from blinding you with flung feces? Hand that person a coin as you thank them.
Yes, I'm totally minting a new currency, and co-opting a spot of Polish idiom in the process.. Maybe these negotiables are backed by spite and a desire to abandon others, but then again, perhaps they're the new gold standard of the golden rule. Ultimately, it's up to you. I plan to keep two of these in my pockets at all times.
Regarding the Kickstarter -- while it may look like I'm suddenly going to be rolling in money to the point that it I appear to be printing my own, the reality is quite different. This project's costs won't scale down much further than they already have. The numbers look like this: 10% comes off the top (5% for Amazon Payments, 2.5% for credit-card processing fees, and 2.5% average dropped charge rate), roughly 20% of the total will go into postage, and 50% will go into inventory, most of which will be put towards filling orders. At the end of the month Sandra and I will be able to pocket about 20% of whatever that final number is, but the word "pocket" is misleading, because it's just going to end up getting turned into re-printing The Tub of Happiness (we have less than 50 copies left) and starting a print run for The Body Politic.
So now you know what lies behind the curtain of this particular circus. I love these monkeys, but don't you think for a minute that they aren't always throwing poo.
Friday March 1, 2013
I'm forty-five today. I'll also be forty-five tomorrow, and in a system where we round down until the very last possible minute, I will remain forty-five until the end of February 2014, absent leap-days notwithstanding.
I celebrated the final day of 44 with a trip to the DMV, nicely bookending the entire year, which I began on February 29th of 2012 by getting cavities filled. Continuing the metaphor, I'd have to say that 44 was a great shelf of books with deliberately ugly bookends, like maybe gargoyles.
Gearoid Malloy of the UK sent me this picture yesterday via Facebook.
It's a great piece of fan-art, and a delightful gift. Thank you, Mr. Malloy!
Today's celebrations include editing 8,000 words of full-metal fantasy adventure, a movie, inking some comics, and a trip out for sushi with my brothers, my eldest, and my newly-minted 10-year-old son (with whom I share my birthday three years out of four.) I'd better get on that list.
The Kickstarter continues to kick, and I've started what I hope is a regular practice among Kickstarter project creators -- every day I post an "accountability update" in the comments section. Maybe I'm being old-fashioned, but I think that if you fine folks overfund my project by 4,369% and throw nearly $80,000 in pledges at me, you deserve to see how I'm spending my time. That seems fair, right?
Okay, I've got 8,000 words to edit. This blogging thing has taken too much time already...
Sunday February 24, 2013
The Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter has overfunded by over 3000% as of this writing.
If you're wondering what a "challenge coin" is, follow the link! If you're concerned about my use of the term in this context, follow this link to a recent update.
If you're wondering how I feel about over-funding, here's a great link that describes the sensation.
If you're not interested in challenge coins at all, but would still like to support Schlock Mercenary, perhaps we could interest you in this new print:
(Note: the image has been updated since the previous post. That post wasn't supposed to go live, but a glitch in the system posted it anyway. And it is now a ghost-post -- I can't delete it!)
We may do shirts at some future date, but for now it is a 5x7 print, perfectly suited for a small frame, and guaranteed to incite conversation in whichever shared space you choose to hang it. And the conversation should go something like "we really need a better space program," followed by wild imaginings, practical underpinnings, and a passion that sets future generations on fire (figuratively -- do not burn anyone.)
Speaking of "on fire," that Kickstarter was NOT supposed to run crazy like that. I planned to slowly release new designs during the course of the month while working on other things, including prose for some long-slipped deadlines. Now I'm stuffing my days full of extra work in an effort to keep up.
I will post Kickstarter-specific updates here at least once weekly during the coming month. If you want the nitty-gritty details the project updates over on the project page will be detail-heavy, and the main comment thread has daily posts in which I hold myself publicly accountable for the time I'm spending.
The comment thread there is a great place to ask questions specific to the challenge coin Kickstarter, though you do already have to be a supporter in order to post. Still, many of your questions have been answered there already. Please read up over there before firing questions at me here (or on Facebook, Twitter, or via email) because I am SUDDENLY VERY BUSY.
Speaking of which, it's almost 9pm and I'm not done with today's task list.
Wednesday February 20, 2013
First, the link: The Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter is live, has funded, and is overfunding far beyond my expectations. And you awesome, generous people have not led me into the possession of humble expectations.
Second, the promise: I promise to deliver awesome stuff for these stretch goals. I didn't expect to need design #3 until Saturday. I needed it ten minutes after we opened the project. And I'll make sure that, barring exclusive numbering, everybody who wants a coin or coins can get it. Don't panic. This is what Kickstarter is for.
Third, Credit Where Credit Is Due:
Myke Cole turned me on to this idea. Lots of you suggested it, but he pushed me off the ledge. He put me in touch with his manufacturer, and was my first line of defense against dumb ideas and incorrect flavor text. He doesn't know it yet, but he's getting a very low-numbered coin at no charge.
Richard Bliss helped me ENORMOUSLY as I was putting this project together. An account of that assistance can be found here. If you're planning a Kickstarter, or any sort of crowd-funded initiative, you are not doing due diligence until you've listened to Funding The Dream. And maybe, MAYBE if you see Richard in person, he'll show you the very low-numbered coin I'll be giving him.
Fourth, I Still Have Work To Do: Like, a week of comics to draw, and several thousand words of tie-in fiction to write. This is not my only iron in the fire, and though it seems to have set the entire shop alight, I still need to tend to some other things. Please be patient with me for the next few days.