5 Sep

Passing of a Comic Legend

14 Aug

As most people who read this blog know by now, comic book icon Joe Kubert passed away last week. While I confess I haven’t read much of his work, I fully appreciate just what he brought to the industry and wish him well in the great beyond.

Not only did Joe produce an extremely prolific amount of comic book stories,  ( arguably the most famous being his Sgt. Rock comics) he produced actual ARTISTS. Joe founded the only school of its kind for aspiring comic book artists, and it’s graduated some of the greats over the decades. God how I wanted to go to that school when I was younger. He’s also the father of the very talented Adam and Andy Kubert brothers, who’ve at this point probably produced almost as many comics as he.

You’ll be missed by many, Joe.

Kickstarter Bans Bulk/Retailer Rewards.

2 Aug

Ironic today that we’re sending out “Distro Packs” to some backers of Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl, as ICV2 reported on Kickstarter instituting a NO bulk discount policy on new campaigns.

First, I’m hesitant to complain about ANYTHING regarding Kickstarter. It is an amazing invention, and this won’t hinder anyone’s intentions to use them. From other articles I’ve seen, this likely has to do with artists and creatives complaining that it’s becoming too “corporate” and being used as only a tool for pre-sales. Well, yes, it IS being used as a tool for pre-sales. That’s really ALL it is, but it’s a beautifully simple method for doing so.

I read one article citing an interview with a Kickstarter co-founder in which the writer was complaining that ANY companies were allowed to sell things.

What this person is saying (likely unknowingly) is hurting a lot of artists.

How? By forcing that artist to pay a higher tax rate and hurting their overall sales.

Many artists learn that once their business reaches a certain level of steadiness, incorporating to an S-corp or LLC allows them to save a huge portion of money. Expenses become PRE-tax instead of post-tax (meaning the govt. calculates your income AFTER expenses are deducted, and only then taxes you). This can allow an artist to make the jump from amateur to professional months or years sooner, and enjoy a higher quality of life in general. And isn’t that the true goal of Kickstarter’s mission anyway?

As for Kickstarter, I can’t see this is something they really WANT to impose. How much lost revenue opportunity will there be without allowing larger purchases?

Possibly, it could be a simple branding safeguard for them. Perhaps this policy is in place to pick specific instances which Kickstarter feels certain rewards make the site too “corporate” and not enough “artist” based on the overall feel. That’s something that can’t be quantified, and puts site users at the whim of the marketing department, which can be good or bad depending on your position.

Maybe they’re worried about the cool kids feeling like it’s getting spammed and just trying to reel it in a bit. For example, in the TECH section, no one seems to care – they seem to root for companies. This is where the REAL money is being made. Over $10 Million for designer watches raised? Sign me up! In comics or music, however, this might not be so well received, and then people leave in droves regardless of legalities or policy. It just isn’t “cool” to them anymore.

One thing is certain, if they enforce this policy, someone will fill the void, possibly Indiegogo.

Often times, backers feel more confident that a company will get their rewards to them in tact, whereas an unknown artist is a bigger risk… but that’s a whole other conversation. I understand that there’s no real good way to create some formula that determines who crosses the line. I hope they keep their hands off philosophy for the most part, and let the artists & businesses do what they do without middle-men interfering, and the cream will rise to the top. It’s a nice little microcosm of a true free-market operation.

Anyway, I’m off to see these Merch Girl retailer packs get out the door safely, and soon a few giant boxes of Misfortune Cookies as well!

In the Trenches: Comic-Con 2012

12 Jul

It’s been a great start to the show, and our little kickstarter experiment really was a nice way to launch into the event.

For those of you who asked or are wondering, I thought I’d give a rundown of what it’s like from this side of the convention table. Before that, though, a quick thanks.

These shows are a lot to take on and, although extremely fun, take their toll both physically and financially, so every purchase is much appreciated.

Every sale helps us hit the breakeven necessary for each show, and it’s what allows us to be here and do business.

I’m hanging out in the hotel bar winding down and skimming over tomorrow’s list while just finishing scarfing down a giant salad and a little libations, checking emails, and thinking about what else needs done before I hit the hay (or if temptation wins, heading over to the Hyatt to see what comic pro peeps are hanging out).

Here are some highlights from yesterday and today, and general behind-the-scenes things that go down.

Yesterday got in to SD on the train from LA (actually got to take a couple days off and go to La-La land with the wife after many insanely busy weeks and have some good times with friends. We had about 50 hoodies and Merch Girl tees and a bunch of prints with us as we bounced between a couple of houses where we crashed, hung out with a pug who supposedly was inspiration in the design of the alien dog in John Carter, and had some great food cooked for us. Life is good! The train to SD was a great 3 hour ride with an Ocean view, and allowed me to catch up on emails, make about half a dozen calls regarding editorial / marketing this ‘n’ that, and get back into work mode.

Had a little hick-up checking into the hotel room, dealt with that.

Got calls from various people asking about the to-be-expected booth set-up complications, figured that out, moved on.

Met up with some long-time friends and show-helpers/saviors for a ride to Home Depot to grab a few hundred square feet of carpet, some tables, and other supplies. Why? It’s about $1000 to rent carpet, tables and chairs at a convention center when you can buy it all for about $300. Getting that carpet back was an adventure, but nothing an SUV and some twine can’t handle!

Picked up the sign at my hotel that we had printed to hang from the ceiling, above the booth at the show. It arrived nice and early, only to find it was printed COMPLETELY wrong. This was a bummer as it was to be a major focal point of the booth – a huge banner featuring the new DD logo towering over the rest of our display. Called it a loss. It would have sent a good message tying to our relaunch, but what are you gonna do? You can let these things ruin your day or move on.

Caught some food when we finally got out of the convention and met Arcana’s CEO out in the Gaslamp area. Got back to bed around midnight.

Woke up at 5:30AM this morning for some reason ready to go. Must be that “I’m going to Disneyland” type of excitement!

Today we got all of our stock to the show, where the gridwall structure for our storage area and display wall had been put together by our booth partners and long-time convention homies Stylin’ Online. Our Ohiya: The Art of Making Friends compadres were there with our signage ready to assemble, our stock was about half there, and we were ready to get rockin’.

I’ve worked with Ohiya’s owners Ripple Junction for 14 years when I was their art director, which makes for a cool full-circle kind of feeling having a collaboration going on with their new brand. All these little things also add up to how you make Con happen without the Con prices!

DD’s convention coordinator ninja Alma dropped in from the rafters around 1:00 which allowed me to let her take over on a number of things and shift my focus.

About 200 texts came in throughout the day with people rolling in asking about getting their badges, dropping off or picking up stock or equipment, all the usual.

In the internet “Matrix” was our interwebz guru getting out last minute updates for the Kickstarter campaign, which we were on the phone about quite a bit. Then it hit me that he could help us out with our sign problem from yesterday. It turned out that one of our Ohiya ninja-homies has a Brother-In-Law who’s a banner printer. Within an hour that was all taken care of.

This really is how shit gets done at these events (not always, but more often than not) when you’re an indy publisher. So tomorrow we should be getting the sign with the DD logo, which won’t be able to hang from the ceiling and will be smaller, but at least the branding will be there.

My sister and her BF rolled in from Ohio – always a welcome site. I brought her to the show many years ago when she was 17 and she’s been sucked in by Comic-Con ever since.

Around 5:00 Merch Girl partner in crime MURS and his equally awesome wife showed up from AZ with the rest of our stock of books, shirts, prints and CDs we were waiting on.

Then the show actually STARTED, and we were off to the races for “Preview Night”.

In the mean time I was dealing with one last batch of shirts that are coming in from Chicago (despite the universe’s best efforts to stop them via a power outage and printing part malfunction), helping with some booth set-up tweaks, and selling product, tweaking signage, and meeting with about half a dozen biz associates, colleagues, and friends I haven’t seen in quite some time every half hour or so (and finding out of course what the party options are for the rest of the weekend)!

Somehow I know I’m leaving a ton of stuff out, but that’s a pretty good overview.

My schedule tomorrow looks something like this (names have been removed for confidentiality):

10:30: Meeting with a printer somewhere in the conventin

Noon – 1:00: Signing at the Arcana Studios booth

1:00 – 2:00: It says “Lunch” but I know that really means squeezing in another meeting or taking care of something at the booth (or sneaking off to see more cool shit going on at the show).

2:00 – 3:00: Signing with Mercy Sparx artist Matt Merhoff at the Devil’s Due Booth!

4:00 – 5:00: Back at the DD booth for an hour signing with MURS

5:30: – Meeting with a toy company Designer

7:00 – 9:00 Show ends, booth shut down, dinner somewhere! Back to hotel, check sales for the day, check emails, touch base with the crew on what needs to be done tomorrow. Try to make it to get some fresh green juice (the secret to not getting sick a week later from Comic-Con).

10:30 – 12:00(ish): Kings of Con party thrown by our ol’ buddy Daniel Alter and a bunch of other folks. Always a good time.

1:00: Get back to hotel and konk out to do it all over again!

So that’s what’s SCHEDULED. Things always get added in, stuff needs tended to at the booth, etc.

But yup, that’s an inside look at a convention schedule that DOESN’T involve Dexter panels and getting exclusives from the Mattel booth. But I hope it was interesting. I mean, you’re still READING this so I hope it was worth it!

I can’t promise I’ll do an update like this during the rest of the show, as these blogs take a really long time to write sometimes. Isn’t that how it always is? You feel like you’ve written a novel then you go back and read it in 30 seconds?

Okay, no Hyatt for me after all. Time to hit the sack!

The Comic-Con Shuffle

6 Jul

Comic-Con has me dancin’ for it as usual while it shoots slugs at my feet, but I’m just moving along to the groove and enjoying the ride. These kind of events can either be very stressful or very fun, depending on how you handle them. When you find yourself feeling stressed it helps to remember, “Oh yeah, we’re going to a COMIC BOOK CONVENTION,” and then smile again.

If you’re going to be there check us out at booth 2229, and get schwag signed by myself, Murs, Jason Tharp, Matt Merhoff, and who knows who else might show up! 

The missus and I will be landing in LA tomorrow prior to the show and staying with friends, while coordinating the final pieces of the comic-con puzzle via phone and email. The DD Robot-tron-5000-super-developer Antonio will be handling things on the digital end and keeping our site up to date, and the meetings are piling up. 

Sounds like a good time! After twelve years I should have it down to a science, right? This is the first year, however, we all had a little help from Kickstarter. Thanks to KS we’re already making a decent clip on sales, and have been able to add a few more inventory items to bring to the show that wouldn’t have been available. One that I’m most excited about being the first ever Mercy Sparx T-SHIRT!

I’ll also be sitting down with a small group of people on Sunday to help get various bits of self-publishing knowledge from my brain to my mouth in a form that will help them. There are a few spots available for pre-order on KS now or you can purchase at the show. Profits go to Project Rectify (as do a percentage of any potential profits from the con in general).

Until then, it’s time for one last minute trek around the house to see what I forgot (I’m VERY good at forgetting things when traveling, ask anyone who’s let me crash in their home – or call my friends in a couple weeks that we’re GOING to be staying with), and then stuffing the final couple of bags to see if we can avoid those crazy new shipping charges for checking baggage at the airport. Can we pack a suitcase inside of another suitcase? 

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