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

< < < < <     > > > > >

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

< < < < <     > > > > >

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

< < < < <     > > > > >

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 )

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Tournament Match 16: Flash vs Mariwen

Match Forfeit- Flash wins.

< < < < <     > > > > >

Match 15 results: ( http://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Tournament-Match-15-Kryan-vs-Bishop-654732851 )

Kryan- 9 votes.

Bishop- 18 votes.

Bishop wins.  200 point victory.

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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Santa and Her Reindeer.

A few years ago I created a white reindeer from an old Poloron deer mold, hung it on the North Pole and got some nice compliments and offers if I were to create more.

I greatly enjoyed working with the deer, but politely declined the offers because of how difficult Poloron deer are to find (they are very seasonal, only from November through January)

and how unreasonably expensive they are, as well as the addition of being shipped out of state.
Most are pick up only.

All that in mind, and tossed out the window, Craigslist provided an unusual find in August.

My usual haunts are traditionally Ebay and Etsy.
What you are looking at, is ten feet of Santa Plus Deers in full Poloron glory.
Some damage to the antlers, but nothing that couldn't be remodeled.
All attached to a Plexiglas sled, in the glorious state of Michigan.

Picture above provided by the far too kind gentlemen who ended up who driving them over to us in his pickup truck.  Apparently, they were a former icon that the neighborhood looked forward to each holiday season.  Unfortunately, they needed a new residence to live on in memory.

And all that holiday cheer wasn't going to fit in my car, but it did look stupidly grand going up three flights of stairs.  Thanks, Dave.  Goofy photos ensued; our neighbor appeared and questioned us who was the true owner of Santa.

I called up the future owner who was inspired by my white reindeer, and we set to work planning.
I saw metallic copper and gold deer, she had plans to hang them from her ceiling.  Santa had a bit of a creepy overtone and would need a creative makeover.


The gems really helped the makeover, only the rails are spray painted, the rest is painted by hand.


I used copper and gold sprays, white snowflake stickers and some additional gems to complete the reindeer.

RECASTING THE ANTLERS: Both antlers had large amounts of dried glues and were partially melted and missing pieces, showing the many years and efforts made to preserve the holiday icon.
We used a silicone rubber to make a mold, and resin plastic for the final piece.  Materials from Smooth-On, this was a mold in the making:

The maintenance folks at my apartment were really sweet about letting me carve down the antlers outside, and special thanks to Dad for all the help on the second set.

Fun Fact:  My sparkle paint in white will turn light blue when it touches white paint.

So that's what's been going on here for the last few months, prior to the DK Kickstarter. Today, I got to see the final result of Santa and his reindeer in its seasonal resting spot of Christmas glory.

Until next year!,-Liz