Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SKIRMISH game promo photo

Glad I waited on the prototype before making the Skirmish #Kickstarter- photoshoot accomplished, playtest footage coming soon.

Note that the prototype is only preliminary- the final box & cards may have design upgrades, as well as special printing effects if we can hit our stretch goals.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Speed Paint- Vi SKIRMISH card side 2


The speedpaint for side 2 of Vi's card is live- featuring 'Professional Killer' by KMFDM.   

Finished a promotional photo-shoot of our prototype SKIRMISH gear last night- just need to film the test-group on Thursday, edit the video, and the SKIRMISH Kickstarter campaign will be upon us.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Vi animation test

Animation test for our upcoming SKIRMISH card game Kickstarter- I wanted to jazz up the video a bit.

This'll be the first time we've ever animated lip sync for some of our characters- finalizing the color on these animations now.  If you're in Patreon, check out the still!  And stay tuned to our newsletter for the KS launch:  http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/News.html

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SpeedPaint- Vi SKIRMISH card side 1

Enjoy the Speedpaint- we're currently finalizing animations and visual content for the SKIRMISH Kickstarter launch video.   Looking forward to unveiling the campaign, I think this one is gonna be fun.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Doing a Video Game

http://slackjawpunks.com/first-ever-game-stream-event-april-13th-630pm-est-until-dawn/ …  I'm going to play a Video Game tonight.  @ComicsKewel and @Boneitis assure me it's a relaxing walking simulator.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Speed Paint- Tendril's SKIRMISH card

https://youtu.be/DpeyUQJ6lKo That strange moment when Britney Spears and an unholy eldritch horror dovetail.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Patreon- How and Why

I had some questions from D.H. Vinci recently about Patreon, and thought I would share the Q & A in the hopes that it might be helpful.

1.When you first launched your patreon, how often did you post/interacted with your patrons?

I don't remember with great precision- it was about a year ago.  I definitely posted once a week at least, because we were able to return to a weekly update schedule for Prelude after launching the Patreon.   That, and I had voting and suggestions for the monthly sketch, and would also share the occasional bit of concept art or link to a contest or whatnot.    I would guesstimate we posted or interacted with the Patrons and Patreon between 3-5 times a week.

2. How long did it take for you to reach your first milestone? What did it feel like knowing you'd be able to keep doing what you love and get that level of support?

First milestone- I think, actually, it took us about a decade.  X D   Even though we launched a Patreon in 2016, I'd been actively straining to promote Dreamkeepers and build a following since- well before 2006, but that's when our first book was released.   Lots of banner ads, contests, campaigns, conventions, book releases, weekly webcomic updates... Building up an audience for the Patreon to tap into took a lot of work over a long period of time.   After launching, it was a relief when we reached the first milestone within... I think it was within 6-8 months.   It's been massively helpful in letting us continue focusing on work.   It's humbling to have that level of help from enough people to generate a difference.

3. What are the social media channels you use? I know FA/DA/twitter. Which one seems to be the most active in terms of you posting and getting feedback on?

I have a complete listing of our social media stuff here:  http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/Links.html  Facebook and twitter are probably the bigger players in the interaction aspect- lots of people have a presence there, so it's easy for them to follow accounts they like.   They're the most universal.   Deviantart and Furaffinity are probably the biggest of the art accounts, and better for curating a gallery of content that doesn't vanish as quickly into the social media slipstream.   It seems like each platform individually is rather ineffective- but all snowballed together, they can add up.   It's a lot of work to post on every different site though, so I'm not sure at what point it's smarter to provide more responsiveness on fewer platforms.

4. Do you post everything you have (general and adult level content) on all your sites or specific ones? Do you have two facebook accounts for example or two accounts of anything to keep your art and private life separate?

We just post everything everywhere.  My general rule for personal content online is, if I'm not open to the possibility of having it be spread around publicly, then it shouldn't go online, period.   So I don't have anything of a highly personal nature online.   My personal facebook is mainly there so I can host the Dreamkeepers facebook, and for occasionally posting bird videos.  Just simpler that way, for me.
When it comes to X-rated or adult content, we don't have a lot- I don't want to surprise casual followers on social media with content that goes outside our normal range, so I post it in the art accounts where we attach the suitable rating category.

5. Why did you choose per month instead of per creation?

I didn't want to think twice before posting content.   I wanted the Patreon to open up more content from me.   But if people have to pay per-post, then suddenly I'm stopping to wonder whether this or that bit of art is 'worth' it.   Unless only some posts count, and others don't?    That starts to sound complex, and if it's making me have questions, I can only imagine prospective backers will be having similar uncertainty.    Just a flat amount per month seemed simple, easy to understand, easy for backers to manage and adjust.   And then I could post stuff on a whim, hopefully helping me make the Patreon more worthwhile for backers.  I think different Patreons might benefit from the other system, but I personally prefer monthly.

6. What advice would you give before and after launching a patreon to people like me looking to start one?

Hmm- it's going to be difficult.   I would say, prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.  There are so many people starting Patreons now, that I think it's difficult to stand out in the crowd.   I think the only thing that saved us was having that pre-built readership from the past decade.  They already placed a certain amount of value on the work we were producing- so it worked when we created an avenue for them to express that value.   But creating value for people is difficult- because first off, it's difficult to make something that is really good, and will actually be entertaining and worthwhile for others.  And secondly, it's an entirely different challenge to make people *understand* that you have something of value for them.  In that regard, I think Patreons can actually pose a risk to beginning creators.   If you place all your best content behind a paywall, it's going to be near impossible for people who don't yet value it to discover it.  For us, it took a decade of advertising, and posting free content.   If there's a faster way to building a following, I would absolutely love to utilize it.  But the only thing I've tried that has worked is continuous effort and adaptation over an extended timeframe.   So, not trying to be a Negative Nate- but don't expect fast success or growth.   You're probably just setting up for disappointment with that expectation.  It's going to take effort and innovation to lure every single reader, the process of creating value- and then making people want it enough to pay for it.

7. What struggles did/do you face with keeping your commitment to your patrons monthly?

My burden is relatively light, actually.   Our Patreon rewards are almost entirely composed of the same thing we've been doing- Prelude comics, graphic novel, other Dreamkeepers related projects.  So, it's simply enabling me to continue working on what I was struggling to work on anyways.    The only major obligation entirely due to Patreon is the Sketch of the Month, which Patrons suggest ideas for, and vote on.   And one drawing a month is pretty easy to fit in.  

I've seen some artists offer commissions and customized art to individual backers for certain tiers- and especially if they have a sizeable following, that can spiral out of control relatively quickly.   And if people only join because they wanted individualized art- if that provision is untenable, and must be withdrawn later, it carries the risk of shedding backers.  I've offered no individualized art or commissions- and our backer level is likely lower because of that, but it also seems relatively stable.

8. What would you recommend doing if you've fallen behind on what you produce every month?

I would just stay open about it- talk to your Patrons, let them know if you're behind, and maybe include some info on what you're doing to catch up, and the nature of the obstacles you're grappling with if appropriate.   Mainly, people don't want to be jerked around for no reason.   If you're doing your best, then just let them know what's going on, and most people will respect that.  
If you're falling behind often, then it's likely your rewards are too time intensive.    It might be time to let your Patrons know you're overextended, and then retool the tiers.  If the Patreon is always keeping you distracted from your real work, or the project you're actually driving towards, then at a certain point it can be more of a hindrance than a help.   If the Patreon is paying you to *not* do your main project, then it's misaligned and will hurt you in the long term.  Especially because, once you establish revenue from a certain model of service, it's very difficult to change that model because then you're incurring risk.   It's better to try and build the model you want from the get-go.

9. Have your rewards changed at all since you launched them or do you plan to improve them later on after certain goals have been met?

My rewards did change once- I wanted to offer something more tangible to $5-and-up backers.  But I didn't want to open up huge customized art commitments- and I also didn't want to start doing strict "Backer Exclusive" art that nobody else could ever see.  We show stuff to the Patrons early- but eventually, I want all our readers to enjoy the results.   I wanted our Patreon to result in more content for everyone, not less.   One backer mentioned they'd like PSD downloads of our art- and bingo!   That seemed like a reasonable extra- one that didn't impact my time, and one that I didn't plan on sharing universally anyways.    And it was tangible, and people wanted it, so boom.   I think that reward has really helped strengthen our $5 tier.

10. What is your monthly schedule like? How do you balance your patron work with commissions and/or other work you do on a daily basis?

Right now my monthly schedule is a bit broken- I'm reacting to urgent tasks more than I'd like.   We need to launch the Kickstarter for SKIRMISH soon- the game designers have put so much work into the game, that I don't think it's right for me to delay, and it's already later than I'd wanted.   Meanwhile the Plush Kickstarter has just moved into fulfillment mode, so I have a ton of mailing to tackle.    Between those, and hitting weekly Prelude updates, I'm playing a touchy game of keepup.   But 'pinch' times like this aren't the norm.

Usually, I take the first week of the month to hit a commission from our queue, catch up on business, and try to wipe out miscellaneous business, personal, and art chores- including the Sketch of the Month voted on by the Patrons.    The next 3 weeks prioritize quota artwork- keeping our Prelude quota, and a page quota for the graphic novel series.  
I'm trying to get into a weekly schedule, as well, where I briefly catch up on social media and e-mails once a week, in addition to the weekly webcomic and Discord chat.   I operate best when I can devote an entire day to intensive work on art, or another task.  

11. I know Patreon takes 5% of monthly profits, are there any other fees I should be mindful of? Do you use paypal as your way to collect your income?

There are other fees- credit card processing, dropped pledges, etc.    Paypal will take a cut if you sell through them, Amazon takes a cut- every provider or platform out there has to sustain itself, not to mention taxes.   After years and years of struggling, when you're finally beginning to catch some air and make a living off your work- BAM.   Expect to be brutally shut down during tax time.  Artists are self employed, and you won't believe how bloodthirsty taxes are for you until it happens.   But I don't focus too much on all these fees- because I can't alter them, so I may as well just focus on getting bigger, getting better, producing more value.  The answer is to just power through- as smart as you can- but ultimately, to grow and get big enough to sustain the cost of doing business.

12. As a writer, how do you go about making your stories? I know you make graphic novels but the story comes first so do you know everything that's going to happen in the stories you write or do you make it up as you go along? Or do you know the beginning and ending of your story and just work through the middle while knowing the endgame?

It's rather a mix.    The graphic novels are plotted with far more precision than Prelude.   Between each book release we revise and revise the overall story, and it tightens, becoming more precise and interlocked.  So we have a lot of guidance from the story outline when writing the graphic novels- the main character arcs, events, angles, and exposition are already laid out.   Prelude is more fluid- we know where it's going, we have some story ideas and character arcs in mind, but we like to leave some flex in there.   Prelude can accommodate more exploration- inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, sometimes a self-contained little story can emerge that doesn't necessarily advance the over-arching events.   But it's meaningful in and of itself, so we let it happen in Prelude.

13. Since I'll be writing my stories out and using them to post every month for patrons, if you were to follow solely writers on patrons how much would you expect/would like to see produced? Like chapters or page numbers?

I'm not sure- Chapters can be long or short, depending on the author and pacing of the events.   I would say, maybe one chapter a month- or at least one scene / sequence unit, where a protagonist tackles an obstacle in pursuit of a goal, action occurs, there's a result (usually a setback,) and then they have to react and plan their next move.   Some meaningful monthly unit like that would be great.   If there were additional small treats scattered throughout the weeks, it might help- fragments of character dialogue, What-if questions, small observations or bits of lore perhaps.   Some tidbits to keep people appetized and interested, then a meal per month to keep them satisfied.

So that's my two cents worth for now- Check out D.H. Vinci's preview page here:

And best of fortunes to everyone setting their sights on creation.  8 )


Monday, March 27, 2017

SKIRMISH Box art, draft 1

Box on the way!
I need some representative props for the Kickstarter video, so this is our draft 01 of the SKIRMISH box art.
The final box may be scaled differently, depending upon the size of the final components, and we may have other tweaks to make as well.
Checking the pricing for counters and D20s of various materials now, so we can calibrate our stretch goals.

Speed Paint: SKIRMISH card- Igrath side 2

Igrath is slated to be in our new tabletop game.

Here's the speed paint featuring the original art for his SKIRMISH card.   Stay tuned to Dreamkeepers news for the Kickstarter launch:  http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/News.html

Read the graphic novel series free on our site or using our app:  http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/Comic.html

And catch more content on our Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/Dreamkeepers

Music is by Sabaton, "Coat of Arms," instrumental version.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZJL6KIe3vk

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TeePublic Sale

Merch sale today: https://www.teepublic.com/user/dreamkeepers Also, bear in mind- we're hoping to hook up some exclusive #Teepublic stuff for the SKIRMISH #Kickstarter backers later this month.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Firebrat Interview with Comics R Kewel

Coming this Christmas from Vivid, a heartwarming... Thing.  Catch the creator interview on @ComicsKewel! http://slackjawpunks.com/comics-r-kewel-ep-36-trigger-warning-feat-mike-rosen/

Speed Paint- Igrath SKIRMISH card side 1

Love the music Liz selected for this one.

Winter is- er, I mean, the Kickstarter is coming.

The game designers poured so much effort into polishing SKIRMISH, I want it to work out for them- consider sharing these SpeedPaints around to help us spread the word, and you just may have more people to Skirmish with.  E )

Friday, March 17, 2017

Newsletter update- SKIRMISH and more


Chat and Sketch Speed Draw 01

Catch a Speed-Draw from our last Chat-n-Sketch- and watch the new one live at 5pm EST today.

Vi Plush Party

The handcrafted Vi Plush are done- I've never seen a Plush with such a range of motion.  You can see the level of articulation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg7qcX9LW7c    Huge kudos to Liz for making this happen- next up, Mace is getting the treatment.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dreamkeepers: The Movie PREVIEW [LIVE]

Chat-n-Sketch 04 Itinerary

We're getting ready for the Chat-n-Sketch 4!  It's happening tomorrow- Friday March 17th, on our Picarto channel:


I'll be sketching Patron requests while a range of guests come on to chat about things either creative or forbidden- or both.

Note to guests:   Audio is hosted through Discord- the mods can direct you to the right channel.  https://discordapp.com/invite/0119hlzTKxn9xDjvy

Listed are guests and their  chosen 10-minute-ish topic.  All times EST and pm.

Time: 5:00
Guest: David
Topic: Technical Difficulties
Link: http://www.vividpub.com/

Time: 5:10
Guest: Beta (Winner)
Topic: The practice-makes-perfect mindset, the tournament, and why dogs are better than cats.
Link: https://twitter.com/Neon_woof

Time: 5:35
Guest: Izabela
Topic: Being awesome
Link: https://www.patreon.com/FeretStudios/posts

Time: 6:00
Guest: Boneitis
Topic: Topics are for the weak.
Link: https://www.patreon.com/bone

Time: 6:25
Guest: STJ
Topic: Control Freak?
Link: http://superflatpsychosis.deviantart.com/

Time: 6:50
Guest: Mancoin
Topic: My two webcomics - Amber's no-brainers and Peanut Berry Sundae. 
Link: http://mancoin.deviantart.com/gallery/36658802/Amber-s-No-Brainers

Time: 7:15
Guest: Saval
Topic: Classified
Link: http://sw1tchbl4de.deviantart.com/

Time: 7:45
Guest: Media Hunter
Topic: Top Secret
Link: https://twitter.com/Issac232

Time: 8:10
Guest: Chad
Topic: Confidential
Link: https://twitter.com/ComicsKewel

Time: 8:45
Guest: Elson & Gabriel
Topic: Edenspell update and more.
Link: https://twitter.com/Darkspeeds

Time: 9:10
Guest: EPF Games- Acus & Spencer
Topic: Gamedev update
Link: https://twitter.com/DKSkirmish

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Streaming SKIRMISH card- Scuttles

We're streaming again:  https://picarto.tv/dreamkeepers   Scuttles has the final card in SKIRMISH- see him come to life, and try to guess which Sandman is his favorite.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Streaming Bast SKIRMISH card- side 1

 Hope you're in the mood for some EDGE- #streaming Bast's card art tonight:  https://picarto.tv/Dreamkeepers  

SpeedPaint- SKIRMISH Ravat card side 2

New SpeedPaint live- watch us finalize the card art for Ravat's in the upcoming SKIRMISH game:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Streaming SKIRMISH Wisp

Streaming more SKIRMISH art this afternoon- Wisp, in all her psychotic glory:  https://picarto.tv/dreamkeepers

Monday, March 6, 2017

SpeedPaint: SKIRMISH card- Ravat 1

Watch us paint Ravat- gettin' ready for trouble in the upcoming SKIRMISH game:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDUyI3HiSd8

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Streaming SKIRMISH card art- Igrath side A

Launching in a few minutes- https://picarto.tv/Dreamkeepers
Watch us create official art for the upcoming Dreamkeepers SKIRMISH tabletop game.

SpeedPaint: Skirmish- Lilith 1

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Streaming SKIRMISH card art- Ravat side A

Getting started a little late- but Ravat is at home in the dark. Watch us stream official art for the upcoming tabletop game.

Chat n Sketch 3

Monday, February 20, 2017

MDM Media- Tournament-style reviews?

Special thanks to Matt Doyle Media for reviewing Volume 1- check out the site, some fresh ideas at play over there:
I especially liked “CrunchyRoll of the Dice” and his tournament-format.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Hop by this evening to watch David stream Patron requests, while guests come on to chat about a range of topics.  Kicking off in a few minutes (after we straighten out a few audio bugs.)  https://picarto.tv/dreamkeepers

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chat n Sketch 3 Itinerary

The Chat-n-Sketch 3 is streaming tomorrow February 17th, on Picarto:  https://picarto.tv/dreamkeepers

Beginning at 5pm EST, stop in to watch David sketch Patron requests, while featured guests share their expertise.

(Guests:  Audio is hosted via Discord, you can find a moderator to manage your call in the DK Chat: https://discordapp.com/invite/0119hlzTKxn9xDjvy)

Stream Itinerary:

5:00 - 5:15:  David.  Topic:  Audio tests and Starting from Nothing.

5:20 - 5:50: Boneitis.  Topic: Running a creative business for a living.   Link:  https://www.patreon.com/bone

6:00 - 6:20: Gunny Waffle.  Topic:  Acting as the producer for Foxy Flavored Cookie and what web comics mean to me. I am also open to talking about the video game industry as a AAA game dev, if this topic meshes well with other conversations.  Link: http://www.foxyflavoredcookie.com/

6:30 - 6:50: Chad of Comics R Kewel.  Topic: Building a podcast

7:00 - 7:20:  Mike Rosen.  Topic:  The upcoming book release "Firebrat."   Link: www.guttersnipecomic.com

7:30 - 7:50: Geo.  Topic: MYSTERY TOPIC.  Link:  http://www.thewaywardastronomer.com/

8:00 - 8:20:  Ferrous.  Topic: MYSTERY TOPIC.  Link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FerrousEnterprises?ref=shop_sugg

8:45 - 9:05: Alex Cain.  Topic: Beyond the Western Deep.    Link: http://www.westerndeep.net  twitter: @tdcpresents

9:10 - ??:  Chaos

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tournament Champion: Beta!

The final score is in- the champion of the Dreamkeepers OC Tournament is Beta!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chat-N-Sketch Stream- Dates

We've set the dates for the next Chat-n-Sketch livestreams:

Chat-n-Sketch 3- February 17th, beginning 5pm EST

Chat-n-Sketch 4- March 17th, beginning 5pm EST

We're scheduling two, to increase the frequency and have them last a little shorter- closer to 3 or 4 hours, rather than the marathon format.

I'm sending out invites now, so we should be able to post a guest list in a week or so for CNS 3.

Anyone who missed it, check out Chat-n-Sketch 2 here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GUYLvm8OPc

And a huge thank you to the Patrons, for giving us the latitude to spend time on these.   https://www.patreon.com/Dreamkeepers

Meanwhile, today is the final Championship Match in our OC Tournament- vote here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdl-pNSwefpZe5elHiaD1rxwwRS6HOohuNMIokz_0XHn9mScw/viewform?c=0&w=1

The winner will be featured on a card in the upcoming officially licensed Dreamkeepers card game- SKIRMISH.   http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/SKIRMISH-Preliminary-Box-art-mockup-661333206  Expect livestreams of character shading in the near future, leading up to a Kickstarter campaign for the game.

Tournament Championship Match: Beta vs Sukotto

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/yZlNdDRCL39qgHiJ2

Friday, February 3, 2017

SKIRMISH- Preliminary Box art mockup

The guys at EPF games have been polishing the gameplay for nearly a year- https://twitter.com/DKBrawl/status/814262580931858432 Possibly longer, I'm not sure.  

But at last, we're getting close to launching the officially licensed Dreamkeepers card game.  

The eight boxes in this mockup will feature art from the eight character decks- this is an early mockup of the logo, but I'm just so excited I wanted to share it. 
This month will be devoted to getting the card game ready for Kickstarter action- stay tuned for more art updates and shading streams.  

Tournament Match 45: Taridium vs Sukotto

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/ePrefvAvpMuIR3qf2

Match 44 results: http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Bracket-Updates-657347416

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Semi-Finals and updates

Bracket 4 of the Tournament is set.  Semi-final match dates are posted- and we're changing a few things up.

For Bracket 4 matches, the word limit for Battle Text will raise from 300 to 600 words.  Now that the stakes are raised, and the field narrowed, contestants have more latitude to flesh out complex fight strategies.

And one of these players will be in the end match- whoever scores the highest in the Semi-finals will get a bye for the finals.

Match results will update here:  http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Bracket-Updates-657347416

And speaking of updates- Volume 5 Chapter 14 pencils are half completed.   With that milestone hit, I'll pivot to focus on completing art for the upcoming DK Card Game Kickstarter, as well as gearing up to mail fluffy Whips to our plush backers.  

This year is launching magnificently, thank you to everyone for helping make it so fun!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tournament Bracket 3 Schedule

Heroes have risen and fallen in Bracket 2 to bring us here- 

The bracket 3 match schedule is now posted.  

To those who are about to die- we salute you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Character Deployed: Wisp

Now unveiling Wisp as the 8th deck in the card game. Help us decide which pose to use for the card art here: https://goo.gl/forms/rEbjfrQ838DSgP1m2
With the final character revealed, it's time to get serious about completing the game art- I'm nearly halfway done with penciling the first chapter of Volume 5, so after I hit that milestone we'll switching over to finalizing the card game art.
We're also developing tiers and stretch goals for the card game kickstarter- when it's ready to show we'll share some previews. Not too much longer now.

Tournament Match 33: Natsi vs Seraph

Vote here:  https://goo.gl/forms/7PTylzwTZ4uskEVJ2

Match 30 & 31 results: http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Bracket-2-Tournament-Schedule-657347416

Tournament Match 32: Marco vs Luka

Vote here:  https://goo.gl/forms/3Aww6Gu337KeVs4b2

Match 30 & 31 results: http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Bracket-2-Tournament-Schedule-657347416

Monday, January 16, 2017

#ComicShopList video script

I’m planning to produce a video this summer, because I wanna promote this idea and see what happens.  This is our current script draft- feedback welcome!

*     *     *     *     *

Welcome to the #ComicShopList- a simple little idea that might just save the retail comic market from oblivion.

Because comic shops have had it rough lately.  I mean, the ones still clinging to life have it rough- it's already too late for many stores.


Headlines usually depict neighborhood fixtures closing forever- nowadays most local shops sell games, with comics as a receding afterthought.

But how can this be?

Comics have never been stronger.  Just look at what the medium is finally surmounting.

For decades, comics were locked depicting juvenilia because of the morality-enforcing Comics Code.  Japanese comics roared past America in terms of content and scope.  But after nearly half a century, the medium is recovering from this censorship- comics are being taken seriously again, by libraries, and by culture at large.   Look at the exploding popularity of events like Comic-Con, and the glimmering multiverse of original new webcomics.

With the gatekeepers gone, anyone can make anything- comics are becoming lucrative, on Kickstarter, on Patreon- it's a rebirth, a renaissance!  

Except in comic shops.

All this new shimmering content, this rising generation of readers, is locked outside.

Because the comic market still has a gatekeeper.   A big one.

To understand the comic shop death spiral, you need to understand... Diamond.

Music hit- Dun Dun DUUUNNNN

First of all- Diamond Distribution is NOT an illegal monopoly.  Because they were under investigation by the Justice Department to look into whether  “Illegal trade restraints exist in comic book distribution.”

“…this arrangement gives the big two leverage over the marketplace that other publishers simply cannot match; the cash available to retailers is finite, which means that if either Marvel or DC decide to publish more titles on a given month, correspondingly less capital will be available to retailers when ordering other titles, allowing the big two to literally flood their competitors off the shelves.” (Dirk Deppey)

In 1997, the Justice Department declared that, because Jane Austen's novels could be sold in bookstores, Diamond therefore couldn't possibly have a monopoly on the comic market.

You can't get much more official than that- Justice Department, no illegal monopoly,  nothing to see here folks.

However, Diamond's uncontested grip on power was attained because Marvel WAS, in fact, trying to set up a monopoly.

“Near monopolistic control by one omnipotent company… Has occurred because of the 1990’s attempted industrial coup by Marvel.” (McAllister 2001)

After being acquired by the 'Junk Bond King' Ron Perelman, Marvel went for the jugular- purchasing 'Heroes World' distribution as a beachhead for a vertical integration scheme designed to destroy DC's access to comic shops.

This power play went down in flames, as DC retaliated by locking into exclusivity with Diamond distribution.  Hero's World collapsed, and every other distributor on the field was annihilated by the fallout of this trade war.

Icahn argued, "[Perelman] Was like a plumber you loan money to get him started in business; then he comes in, wrecks your house, then tells you he wants the house for nothing."

When the dust settled, Diamond made peace by offering the Big 4- Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image- special insider arrangements.

The Big 4 have exclusive bargains giving them preferential placement in Diamond's catalog, and superior price rates.  Diamond charges all other publishers more.  



So, the comic retail market went from dozens of distributors to one- Diamond.

The result?

With insider advantages and monopolistic access, Marvel and DC were able to literally flood the competition off the shelves by cranking out more titles.

Retailers, with fewer distributors and fewer titles to choose from, found their options suddenly narrowed.  A finite budget meant they had to go for the more affordable titles- titles from publishers with Diamond exclusivity deals.

Meanwhile, Diamond raised it's minimum profit benchmarks from $1,500 to $2,500.

"What this signals to me is that in defiance of the trends of the culture towards smaller, more creator-owned work, Diamond is just interested in propping up already popular works. They’ve given up fostering the next Dash Shaw or Yokoyama — they’re essentially cutting off the potential for growth or surprise."
Dan Nadel- SLG Publishing

Without the ability to cultivate variety on their shelves, stores found themselves capable of servicing only one subsection of consumers- superhero readers.

Over the years, anyone interested in more has learned they can't find it in comic shops.   The withering contingent of superhero readers has become the IV-drip keeping the last comic shops alive.   Even those shops who would like to invest in new readers lack the money to gamble on fresh product lines, and taking shelf space away from Universe Retcon #75 risks clogging that IV.

So here we are.  While a galaxy of crowdfunded new comics are taking off online, comic shops are locked in the shadow of a monopolistic Star Destroyer, starving on their rations.

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But what if there was a way for crowdfunders to get their X-wings past the blockade?
What if we could connect those stores with an unlimited galaxy of online content- with no financial risk, and without sacrificing shelf space?

A new hope for retailers, and a new market for creators.

One long-shot idea might just do the trick.

The #ComicShopList:

It's one three ring binder on the store counter.  Inside the binder are standardized order sheets for independent comics.   For every comic, one simple sheet- with spaces for store customers to sign up if they're interested.  The world's most flexible ordering catalogue.

The store owner decides how many pre-orders are necessary to make it worth their while- and when enough customers sign up on the sheet, boom!  

Just  like that, comic shops can offer their customers everything- with zero dollars at risk, and without sacrificing any shelf space.

Now, this whole idea might seem a little simple.   It's just a freaking binder.   How will that make any real difference?

Well imagine if the #ComicShopList caught on.

Customers could walk into their shop, and be the first to submit a listing for their latest Kickstarter discovery.   The store owner could engage with his regulars, and show them what everyone else is signing up for.   Readers who want a particular title would have an incentive to bring their friends in, to reach that order threshold.   Store customers would be transformed into an army of talent scouts, with a stake in the performance of their local shop.

Face to face contact, incentivized outreach, engagement between the clerks and customers- it is precisely this kind of local interaction that a phsyical location can do better than a website.  The #ComicShopList amplifies the inherent strengths of a brick-and-mortar storefront.

Giving customers the ability to participate in the process, that feeling of control and relevance, has the power to make comic shops a vibrant community hub again.  

Comic shops can offer more.  Customers can have more.  And creators can sell more- all with this decentralized, radically simple system in place.

But there's one missing piece between the idea, and the reality:


For this to work, we need a critical mass of creators, readers, and store owners willing to give it a try.  
So, please- share this video with someone.   A favorite creator, your friends, a local comic shop.    Spread the word- and then look for creators posting in the #ComicShopList hashtag with links to their printable list.   Then, grab a binder, grab your list- and let's see what happens!

I'd love to hear firsthand accounts- please share video and photos from your efforts, and I can assemble a follow-up video featuring the stories of participating retailers and authors.  

Check the video description for links to a #ComicShopList template, so anybody can make one with minimal effort.

Because this new generation of creators deserves to be in stores, and stores deserve to tap into this new wave of customers.

From the early newspapers, to the Comics Code, through the Monopoly Age, to now-

Let's write the next chapter in the story of comics.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bracket 2 Tournament Schedule

As the Kickstarter for the all-new Dreamkeepers card game draws near- possibly February or March- our tournament rages on.  The champion will have their character drawn on one of the cards.

The final match of Bracket 1 resulted in a 112 point victory for Andy Valdric-
Neilo Rosmir: 64 votes
Andy Valdric: 72 votes

Full character roster:  http://vividstuff.blogspot.com/2016/12/oc-tournament-contestants.html

Out of 50, 24 characters fought their way to Bracket 2.  The match schedule for the rest of the tournament is now slated- see the graphic for dates.

There will be one tweak to the rules taking effect in Bracket 2:  Contestants must provide Battle Text of 300 words or less for their match, or they forfeit.   They can still have an additional web link- but that's extra, and not a substitute for the primary Battle Text.  I want to keep the tournament accessible to spectators, and respect the efforts of players who work to craft a concise entry.

Art for the card game is continuing to refine- Vi was just revealed as one of the core character decks: goo.gl/forms/9YIwuN9TmCOKvfl42

Enjoy the tournament while the game approaches completion.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Character Deployed: VIRIATHUS

The next character to have a deck in the card game:  Vi!  

Let us know which pose you like best for the card art:  https://goo.gl/forms/9YIwuN9TmCOKvfl42

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Match 25- Neilo vs Andy

The final match in Bracket 1 of the Tournament!
Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/lTWnGb9yugo7PO9e2

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Match 24 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-24-Reagent-vs-Saval-656599255 )

Reagent: 35 votes

Saval: 12 votes

Reagent wins. 291 point victory.

Tournament details and character descriptions: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/journal/OC-Tournament-Bracket-1-Schedule-650879537 )

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tournament Match 23: Marco vs Arcoth

Link for Arcoth: http://darkice-421.deviantart.com/journal/Dreamkeeper-Tournament-Arcoth-656323102?ga_submit_new=10%253A1483930588

Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/NrXPGAhPcBvrglrz1

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Match 22 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-22-Sam-vs-Nimbus-656212432 )

Sam: 33 votes

Nimubs: 23 votes

Sam wins. 143 point victory.

Tournament details and character descriptions: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/journal/OC-Tournament-Bracket-1-Schedule-650879537 )

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Tournament Match 21: Beta vs Patty

Linke for Beta: http://i.imgur.com/d3Z63fh.png

Link for Patty:  http://sta.sh/02fmrre9yxwz

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/3ggbyerxj4NXpCKJ2

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Match 20 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-20-Timmy-vs-Nero-655768848 )

Timmy: 18 votes

Nero: 10 votes

Timmy wins.  180 point victory.

Tournament details and character descriptions: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/journal/OC-Tournament-Bracket-1-Schedule-650879537 )

Friday, January 6, 2017

Character Deployed: Scuttles

Game testing continues to refine the decks, and the Kickstarter is getting closer- possibly comin' at us this February or March.

But that leaves the burning question- when Scuttles rushes onto the field of battle, which illustration should be on his card?

Let your voice THUNDER with the resounding force of your vote!  https://goo.gl/forms/FPWVsIrHKSBNYzzo2

Tournament Match 20- Timmy vs Nero

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/KqRXtkzJBkExGCec2

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Match 19 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-19-655562538 )

Gary: 17 votes

Mai-Ra: 19 votes

Mai-Ra wins.  111 point victory.

Tournament details and character descriptions: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/journal/OC-Tournament-Bracket-1-Schedule-650879537 )

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tournament Match 19

Link for Gary: http://riolunation.deviantart.com/art/OC-Tournament-Battle-Text-By-RioluNation-655291026?ga_submit_new=10%253A1483497502

Link for Mia-Ra:  http://sta.sh/01yobm39vbr9

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/iix65vO3ECggi9t73

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Match 18 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-18-Korrigan-vs-Pyro-655384757 )

Korrigan: 20 votes

Pryo: 6 votes

Korrigan wins.  333 point victory.

Tournament details and character descriptions: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/journal/OC-Tournament-Bracket-1-Schedule-650879537 )