As usual, we fell behind but it’s time to start a BRAND NEW MONTH with all sorts of things to read:
§ Todd Allen took time off from The Beat to interview Comics $1 Million Man, Rich Burlew, including some numbersy ballparkin’:
“It’s really tough to be exact with this,” Burlew says about the size of his audience, “but my best estimate is around 650,000 dedicated readers who check out every comic as soon as it updates, and as many as another million casual readers who check it out once every month or two.”
￼The rule of thumb for converting readers of a freely distributed online property into paying customers is 1%. A range of 650,000 dedicated readers to 1.65M combined casual and dedicated readers would yield an expectation of 6,500 to 16,500 people participating in the campaign. The Kickstarter campaign had 14,952 people contributing to it, so it’s likely Burlew converted somewhere between 1-2% of his monthly audience and then benefited from the wide publicity the project garnered in its later stages.
§ Of course Burlew is going to end up with far LESS than $1 million. Postage, printing, prizes…and, oh yeah, taxes:
If you have found any information about dealing with tax issues on Kickstarter.com, please post a comment. I haven’t found one single word. Of course, since it’s on the Internet, the money must be free. Update: There actually is a new link from Kickstarter to Amazon Payments that explains how Amazon will be required to report Kickstarter payments processed by Amazon to the IRS in the US. for the 2011 tax year on a Form 1099-K. The filing responsibility falls on what the IRS calls the “middleman”. (It appears these regulations were finalized in August 2010 so this has been coming for a while it seems, but check with your CPA.) This is what we anticipated happening back in July and warned you about in “One for You, 19 for Me“. You can get more information about Form 1099-K on the IRS website www.irs.gov/form1099k or by entering “new payment card reporting” in the search box on www.irs.gov.
§ Of all the other bloggers out there, the one who writes the most things we would have written, had we been gven the chance, is J. Caleb Mozzocco, as in this appreciation of illustrator Wanda Gag.
§ Davy Jones appreciation: Mark Evanier reminds us of a very nice anecdote involving the late Jones which he posted only days ago.
§ “We’re the young generation and we got something to say.” — was this ever really in doubt?
§ Several copies of the previously very hard to find KRAMERS ERGOT #1-3 have been unearthed and can be purchased at The Beguiling. Although the early issues were excellent, it was not the juggernaut of inexorable science that it was to become. Jog analyzes these early attemptsfor TCJ. That’s early contributor Justin Howe above.
§ She has No Head’s Kelly Thompson provides a usable list called10 Graphic Novels for the Literary Minded that was tweeted hundreds of times, if you believe those counters.
§ A mother finds reading manga on the iPad is swell, and her kid likes it too, but his little hands get tired of holding the iPad!
I’ve already started to use my new iPhone to entertain my kids while we’re waiting in various places. If I owned an iPad, I’d definitely download the Viz app so I could access the free items in their store, which include titles such as the first volumes of Dragon Ball, Hyde & Closer, Naruto, One Piece, and the Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Previews. A single volume might pull them in long enough to last twenty minutes or so. The one big disadvantage, as my younger son pointed out, is that the iPad can grow heavy in small hands. His fingers ached a bit after reading for over twenty minutes. I suspect a good case would mitigate this particular problem. The second disadvantage is that the kids will have to do all the reading on the iPad for digital content, meaning there might be a tug of war over who gets to use it. Print volumes can be handed back and forth without chance of breakage as well.
§ It’s Women’s History month! The Mary Sue presents 10 Best Uncostumed Superheroines, with some funky fresh picks.
§ AND ALSO, UGO presents The 99 Hottest Fictional Women Of 2012 which includes everyone from Lois Griffin to Katniss Everdeen and tons of characters from video games. UGO also has a section called “Jewish Hotties.”
§ English artist Brett Ewins has been through some hard times recently, with an arrest and a head injury during the arrest. The Forbidden Planet Blog has a nice tribute to him and his art, including Beat fave Johnny Nemo, possibly the most newave comics character ever.
§ With convention season , a.k.a. San Diego, already filling people’s planners, artist/publisher Michael Davis explains why inviting yourself to parties and dinners, especially his, is a no-no.
§ Malaysian cartoonist Zunar is the real hero. Perhaps he can be played by Sean Penn in the movie version.
Comic cons serve a variety of functions. They can be press junkets, costume parties, swap meets, social retreats, even museums. Comics writer Warren Ellis has a habit of referring to San Diego’s huge Comic Con as “nerd prom,” which perfectly captures the glow of excitement for mass socialization in funny costumes. By contrast, this year’s Image Comic Expo was more like a nerd Sadie Hawkins dance – a deliberate reversal of the standard hierarchy, where creator-owned books are championed over the widely beloved DC and Marvel franchises that sometimes seem to oversaturate the comics market. It was also a little less garish and hectic than some larger cons, but the sense of community and pride was still richly evident.
Basically, I had a ton of story ideas in my head over the past couple of years while working on picture books. I wrote them all down on pieces of paper, in notebooks and sketchbooks as they came to me with hope that I’d be able to draw and paint them at some point. Many of these involved subject matter and scenarios that a picture book publisher these days probably wouldn’t approve of: Sideshows and carny kids, Ouija boards and ghost cats coming back from the dead, a creepy ice cream man that delivers disgusting treats to monster kids during the witching hour…all things I would absolutely kill to illustrate but knew would never get the green light with a picture book publisher. I decided to use those story ideas and apply them to O & O, to try and create a happy place between a traditional picture book and a comic.
So doing those strips taught you how to do comics? Because it gave you a looser line? Pushed your expressiveness and broke you free of your comic book forebears? None of the above?
It certainly helped my craft just to do that many strips. But more so it helped me get over stage fright. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of redrawing the same sample pages over and over. Every time I’d change the slightest storytelling moment or intercut panels or change characters. There were literally 20 versions of some pages. I was utterly twisted into a knot. So scaling down helped to wrap my head around how to think through, if not tell, a story cleanly. In 3 or 4 panels you call upon all the skills you need in order to write and draw a comics story. From there it’s more or less about your ambition. It’s like a Kevin McHale post move or something, the more you get into it the more nuance is revealed and you just keep pushing it until you either get a little frustrated and abandon it like I did or you become an utter master. Either way the commitment to it changes how you think. I never achieved what I wanted with that strip but thought processes I developed through making one are still a basic unit of measure for me.
BUCKLER: Did you have camaraderie with other cartoonists? How did that figure into your work? SANTIAGO: Working at Milestone was great for my craft. I didn’t know shit from chocolate when they hired me so every step of the way I was learning things. How they put a comic book together from scratch. Cowan, as my editor, was telling me what I was doing wrong and why I sucked. Although, he let me know I could do a better job. Or Static writer Ivan Velez, Jr., who encouraged me to write my own stuff and gave me a copy of Birdland, slowly getting me familiar with Fantagraphics’ library. This is important because the whole superhero comic thing was getting boring to me. Now I saw the potential of telling other kinds of comics. But sometimes “camaraderie” can hold you back, or friendships come out of the collaborative process and later these worlds collide. It’s a give and take.
Crepax is perhaps the most talented cartoonist whose work is so largely unavailable to the American market: aside from a few hard-to-find volumes of literary adaptations, he has nothing in print, and tracking down Valentina, his hardcore masterwork, in English, is nearly impossible: two thin volumes translated decades ago by NBM fetch collector’s prices, and a few shorts in vintage issues of Heavy Metal magazine give only tantalizing hints toward the true greatness of the master, who worked for his entire four-decade career in Italian. Though it’s a shame such potentially life-changing work remains so unavailable, it’s hardly surprising. As with any number of the 20th century’s most important artists — James Joyce comes to mind, as do Pablo Picasso and the comics medium’s own George Herriman — Crepax’s best work is also his least accessible, ranging from black-lacquered BDSM stories to completely non-narrative art showcases. It’s the pages on which his obsessions overtake him utterly, where he seems more interested in entering a dialogue with himself and his own characters than with his audience, that Crepax’s real genius is to be found.
§ Not comics: There is actually some kind of “Desperate Housewives” trial going on right now that has to do with head slapping on the set. This trial includes real judges and real lawyers.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.