Thursday, July 19, 2018

Q&A Week 10

45 Why do the twins admire Igrath so much?
Indi and Digo grew up in a large family, which would avidly watch Fallguard matches, and of which one brother was a Toll Wars veteran, who served with Igrath.  This made the Fallguard champion turned war hero turned Guard Captain Igrath somewhat of a household name- but he was always a distant and unattainable hero.
Indigo was teenaged when a devastating scandal rocked Anduruna.  Igrath was accused of murdering his own wife, and became fugitive #1.  But conspiracy theories flourished on the illicit online chats, and around dark street corners- theories that fascinated the girls, both validating their hero and affirming their suspicions of authority figures. 
While others eventually succumbed to the repetition of the news broadcasts and decided to believe Igrath was an evil liar, Indi and Digo stubbornly clung to their convictions.  That not only was Igrath a hero, but a martyr.
Plot Vault encompasses the details, but when their career finally brought them into contact with Igrath, it was literally meeting a childhood hero.  He was everything they had built him up in their mind to be, with one addition- he was also vulnerable.  Blinded and alone.  They took it upon themselves to rebuild their icon, and never settle for anything less.


35 Are there any strong lvl 6 powers that left a mark in the andurunan history?
Probably many that I haven't made up yet- and one for certain in the year 1201.  The details are currently Plot Vault.


33 Do Indi and Digo have identical voices, or do they sound different from one another?
They have a slightly differing cadence and inflection to their speaking patterns, but the voices can be identical.  They're also expert at mimicking the other, when trying to ensure their counterpart gets the blame for something, or teasing anyone who thinks they have 'em figured out.


28 Does Namah scream like a real gecko?
Not really, but she does scream.  If she heard a gecko scream, that would probably become a goal for her pretty fast. 


27 What are the characters birthdays?
We haven't previously set exact dates, but we'll make up a few for the non-Plot-Vault mains:


Lilith- Martius 3, 1212
Namah- Novemberis 6, 1213
Bast- Apru 5, 1211
Igrath- Januarius 8, 1180
Scinter- Maius 12, 1181
Tinsel- Februarius 7, 1193

Friday, July 13, 2018

Guest Blog: How to Create an Amazing Brand on a Micro Budget

Many thanks to Ashley for reaching out and offering to share a guest blog with us, despite my e-mail reply lag.  Enjoy her article!



Startup companies have it rough in terms of competing with already well-established
conglomerates in their industries. That’s what makes branding such an effective tool; it
separates you from the competition and gives your business an identity.
However, there’s a common misconception that proper branding requires tons of overhead.


The truth is, you don’t need a big budget to craft a successful brand. In fact, the critical
aspects that go into creating your image don’t require money at all! Whether you’re just
starting your business or are looking to reshape its identity, follow these six tips for success.


How to Create an Amazing Brand on a Micro Budget in Six Steps
  1. Know Your Customer Base
  2. Choose Your Words Wisely
  3. Tell Your Story
  4. Utilize the Right Content
  5. Invest in Some Swag
  6. Enlist Influencers


1.Know Your Customer Base
The word “niche” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s a lot more important than you might think.
Understanding your target audience and keeping the focus on them is a vital aspect to any
businesses success these days. You need to know what they want, what they think, and
how they like to spend their money.


Then, all you have to do is give them what they want. Shape your brand identity around them,
in the look and operations of your online business. You’ll give be able to build an instant
connection between your customer base and your brand, which is something that big
corporations just can’t achieve.


2. Choose Your Words Wisely
Large business have the funds to craft multi-faceted branding strategies, but your business
can be just as effective by taking advantage of key messaging. Ideally, you’ll want to craft
one key message that communicates everything potential customers need to know about
your brand, and have all your other communication complement that core message.


Take the time to consider what it is your business does for customers. Are you eco-friendly,
or sourcing your materials sustainably? Does your personality shine through in your creations?
What sets your product or service apart from similar ones? Most importantly, how do you want
your brand to communicate with your audience?


Don’t overdo it. Providing your audience with too much information at once can overwhelm them.
Keep things as short as possible while relaying key information, and spread out details into
individual social media posts and newsletters. Take the time to ensure that your social media
posts and product descriptions all match your tone.


3. Tell Your Story
The color and design of your logo might be important, but the story behind it is what attracts your
customer base. Think about why you want to start this business in the first place, then try to
incorporate that into your logo through messaging, colors and any other way possible. Your story
tells customers something important about your business, giving personality to your brand and
helping clientele identify with it.


Don’t be afraid to have an “About Us” page or simple blog on your website that spells it out for
your customer base. This can be intimidating, but if you think of it as a way to hone in in your
message, it will actually be very simple to write this copy. This step can give context to your brand,
and increase buyers’ trust in your online store.


4. Utilize the Right Content
Whether in video form or blog posts, content marketing is king. Sharing relevant content with your
audience builds a stronger brand while encouraging users to connect with your business. It sets
you up as an authority in your niche, providing value to potential customers at the same time as
it draws traffic to your site and gets eyes on your product.


If you’re short on ideas, consider a guide to how your products work, or a few videos that help
explain your mission and purpose. Keep the focus on education and entertainment for the greatest
success here. Be personable, concise, and think about how you can relate or connect with your
audience.


Need more? Check out our in-depth post on writing content that converts.




5. Invest in Some Swag
Branded products are an inexpensive way to give people what they want: cool stuff! Who doesn’t
want a t-shirt, coffee mug, or stickers with cool imagery? Promotional items for your business can
really help spread the word, but also solidify a more personal relationship with customers and your
brand. If you’re starting an online clothing store, this can be a perfect chance to show off your styles
and build some buzz around your brand.


Don’t be afraid to have fun and get creative with your branding here. You’ll want to create something
that you can share with customers and collaborators, that they will want to use often, and that will
spark conversation about your online business.


6. Enlist Influencers
Influencer marketing is right up there with content marketing in importance. It allows your business
to collaborate with someone who already has a well-established audience to give your promotions
a boost. There will always be a small group of influencers within your niche that understand your
audience, and they can help you create valuable content that reaches a broader range of people.


It’s worth trying, especially at the start. You might even find another eCommerce business just
getting started, that would be willing to promote your products so long as you promote theirs.
This requires minimal effort, yet effectively increases your network and potential revenue.




You don’t need a hefty budget to create an amazing, identifiable, and trustworthy brand image.
Remember to keep the focus on connecting with your audience, and you can’t go wrong.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and refer back to these tips anytime to help get your
creative juices flowing.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

Q&A 9

35 What kind of ships does Anduruna have? Sailing or are they all spring powered? What's the largest they get? How far do they travel out?

I haven't developed much in the way of specific ships yet- Grunn's old ship is what we've seen the most of, and has an old spring-powered wheel system, in addition to sail rigging.   Some boats have spring powered props or water wheels, some use windmills to wind their springs, some use good old fashioned oars, and some would use pure sails.  Some, like Grunn's whaling ship, use a mix.   We're going to see more ships in more detail before too much longer.

31 Where do you guys get your inspiration for all the different stripper outfits and clothing?

Stripper clothing is easy, just subtract and you're done!  A lot of the more saucy outfits come from Whip's inspiration bin.  I like to make up variations on coats and other 'normal' clothing as well.  We've had a couple readers create real-world wardrobe accessories based on commissioned art.

33 How did the orphans feel about Paige, and how did they react to her death?

Paige was generally liked, and the orphans are feeling disconcerted about her death:  http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/GNSaga.php?pg=352 
http://www.dreamkeeperscomic.com/GNSaga.php?pg=391
Their reactions are tempered by the fact that Randy is directly manipulating their impression of what happened, and instructing them what to think about it.  Plus they have no reason to believe they're immune from a similar fate.  Dealing with their own problems means ostentatious displays of grief are somewhat of a luxury.

32 We've seen the houses in Anduruna but with how diverse DKs are, i was wondering if there were some aquatic habitations, underground ones or

There are some underground habitations in Anduruna, especially in the mining areas and the foundations of the larger towers.  Some congested areas of the city built up and down at the same time. 

Underwater dwellings are possible elsewhere, but don't factor in to the general civic infrastructure of Anduruna.

23  How tall are or the characters in feet?

An old ref sheet provides the answer!   https://www.deviantart.com/dreamkeepers/art/Volume-1-Scale-Sheet-143207864

Newer references may have shifted the relative proportions of characters somewhat, but I think we can peg Tinsel at right around 6 feet for a solid reference point.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Anthrocon Wow!

A magnificent weekend, and I noticed something unexpected.

But firstly, thank you to everyone who came to visit us!  From veteran comic creators to familiar readers and new faces, everyone was kind and engaging and made the weekend incredible. 

Also thanks to Geo for manning the table with us, helping promote his Wayward Astronomer novel.  Our table sold out of every copy we brought.

I thought raising commission prices would slow things down on that front, but NOPE.  I had a pile of fun ideas to work on, and just wrapped up our take-homes yesterday.

We also sold through every Plush Whip that we brought to the table, Prelude Collections, Vivid Sketchbooks- and that brings me to the new phenomenon I noticed.

New stoppers. 

Readers who are into comics typically stop and check out our table- which is why we've grown.  But we were getting new stoppers this Anthrocon.

Some people aren't initially into comics as much.  They would be strolling past- but their gaze would freeze on the Dreamkeepers Wayward Astronomer novel, and they'd dial in.  Or they'd look past the novel, past the comics- but notice the Skirmish prototype game box, and be pulled in. 

Speaking of which, some of the veteran readers & mods demoed Skirmish in the game room, and I hear it attracted a great deal of interest.

So my overall realization was that Dreamkeepers really is growing into something greater than the sum of its parts.  What began as a simple webcomic is emerging as a fully fledged franchise, with a concept robust enough to viably expand to new mediums.  And that expansion is having a snowball effect.

I'm looking forward to mailing Skirmish to our backers later this month, looking forward to continuing Volume 5 work, and looking forward to seeing where Vivid takes us all next!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Q&A Week 8

42 Aren't the andurunans actually curious about what lays beyond their borders? What do they know about the world outside and are there

Curiosity abounds.  There's a lot of official information taught in schools:  Some bland maps and general statements that a barren wilderness devoid of resources is all that could be reasonably expected.  It's technically illegal to organize and launch private expeditions that go beyond Anduruna-inhabited territory.  But despite the blandishments and prohibitions, some citizens occasionally try their hand at exploration.   Most don't return- their disappearance is attributed to the infamous 'bandits.'  Those that do straggle back have tales of harsh wilderness with no plumbing, and occasionally harrowing tales of escaping from hostile 'bandits.'  Some citizens are in touch with black market smuggler 'bandits' from beyond Anduruna, and the stories they hear seem to confirm this.  The smugglers don't dare venture beyond certain territories alone, or they fear being abducted or vanishing themselves.


32 Were Bobby and Vi never a thing when you made V1? When did you decide to add them to the story, and why? Did Mace not have enough

Volume 1 was the genesis of the graphic novel storyline- but it would have been a mistake to introduce every character in the entire series in the first book.  Gotta leave some room to explore and meet new people.  E )   There are many approaches to writing stories- though I tend to plan and outline extensively, I also stay loose with some details and specifics, so that the narrative can breathe and have the flexibility to cast itself in the truest possible form.  We were always going to need Troika characters and people who knew Mace in his youth- and the details were solidified as we moved forward into Prelude and subsequent Volumes.   More discoveries remain ahead of us.


29 What is prison like in anduruna? And where is it?

Prisons are in the Towers.  District towers house local prison facilities, and the maximum security penitentiary is in the Sabbaton Towers.  Prison construction predates banishment policies, so they were built to contain power users- as such, they're lodged underground, in the subterranean levels of these towers.   In Volume 4, the tourists took a public lift that bypasses the prison levels entirely;  But there's a secured area with heavily guarded lifts and stairwells which control the movement of supplies and personnel on the detention levels.


23 Are there any other holidays besides the Harvest Festival and All Spirits Eve?

Definitely!  We haven't stopped to create a comprehensive list, but there's a variety of holidays.   One additional day we made up is called 'Seeker's Day,' which involves hunting ryuu-neko eggs.  It's like a combination of Valentine's Day and Easter.


22 The Indigo’s speak Spanish, are there Any other bilingual dreamkeepers. (Russians would be pretty cool)

Yep!  Technically they don't speak full Spanish- long ago, the districts had different languages.  But after centuries of mixing around, most of them went extinct.  What remains are district dialects that include a scattering of remnant words and phrases.   Depending on which part of the district, the dialects can be fairly heavy or almost impossible to detect.

Friday, June 22, 2018

BGC: APAMA


The Undiscovered Animal- opinions split in the latest from BGC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKhNi_zNYgs

Caption Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who created entries! It was fun reading them:  https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/gallery/66540267/2018-Summer-Caption-Contest

We narrowed it down to ten finalists, and the Discord moderator team selected the grand prize winner.  Winners, send us an e-mail!  (Dreamkeeperscomic(at)gmail.com)

We need your mailing info- every finalist receives a button pack, and the grand prize winner receives the original pencil lineart for the page displayed.



Grand Prize Winner:

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Dreamkeepers-Caption-Contest-748280617


Finalists:

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/2018-Summer-Caption-Contest-VagueScribbles-748979611

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Caption-Contest-The-Pipe-Problem-748223100

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Caption-Contest-2018-Image-By-Dreamkeepers-dcdgjsj-748920437

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Entry-for-DREAMKEEPERS-Caption-Contest-748221180

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/DK-2018-Caption-Contest-Zeph-Entry-6-750347293

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/DK-Caption-Contest-Haunting-748237309

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Dk-Caption-Contest-Narration-748953506

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Nainso-s-Life-Errors-DK-Caption-Contest-Entry-1-748829450

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/art/Nainso-s-Mice-Muffins-748523252



Finalists and winner, send your mailing info by the end of June to make sure we don't run out of button packs. 

Thanks again for entering, I hope the contest was fun for everyone!



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Q&A Week 7

49 What usually happens to the dreamkeepers banished from Anduruna?
Details are Plot Vaulty, but many banished dreamkeepers simply vanish. It is speculated that they are seized and murdered by the notorious 'bandits.' There's a 'bandit' settlement to the north, consisting of expatriated Anduruna merchants. Many banished dreamkeepers try to reach that city, because contrary to the media accounts, black market trade with this settlement would seem to indicate that it's more of a viable settlement than some sort of cutthroat paradise.
Some Dreamkeepers try to strike out into the wilderness and form their own encampments, which have varying success. Encampments near Anduruna are generally reliant on runners doing trade within the city for their food supplies, and any that get too large break up due to logistical problems.

39 Is the power halo at all tangible? Does it output any heat?
Halos can feel different based on the power being channeled- but generally they feel cool and a bit tingly, like dipping into a pool of light.

35 So how would the others react to Mace being the best stripper around.
If Mace were endowed with masterful stripping skills (which is true only in his wildest imaginings) Bast would probably perform a nuclear facepalm and blow himself to smithereens. Lilith would be stuck between shock and curiosity, and Namah would likely burst out laughing. But Whip would simply look down on the efforts of an aspiring amateur.

30 Since June is gay pride month, are there any LGBTQ characters in dreamkeepers
Nobody in the Dreamkeepers series is gay for the reason of June being gay pride month. But some of the characters in the series are gay.

25 How was the name DreamKeepers conceived? Any story behind it?
The original card game / fantasy world David developed pre-college was titled "Realm," but that seemed a bit generic. During college a roommate kept having horrible nightmares, and mused that it sure would be nice if there was something to keep his dreams safe. This triggered research into dream lore, including Mesopotamian legends about literal dream guardians. If these guardians abandoned their human host, the person would go insane. This led to the name brainstorm of "Dreamkeepers," and the grains of the concept began to develop from there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June News

Milestone achieved! 

Huge thanks to the Patreon backers for another record month- and welcome to all our new backers! 
These elite readers are bestowing weekly Prelude for everyone during the month of June.

Another unlocked feature of 'Full Time' is a Chat 'n Sketch this month- scheduled for June 23rd, 3pm EST on our Picarto channel.

Also this month, our final Skirmish boxed-game prototype arrived.  And, WOW!  It's like opening a pile of treasure.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RaVm4Cy84M

Just waiting on freighting, and we'll start delivering to backers of the campaign.  After that's done, we'll announce when games are available for public purchase.

And speaking of games- Faction War is rumbling again.  The test game this spring gave me a lot to chew on, and I finally got around to overhauling the mechanics.  Now there will be ryuu-nekos that boost Awareness, Manekales for mounted riding, and more.

Needs a bit more testing, but we're stepping closer to a public release for the first official Dreamkeepers roleplay system.

Also nailing some commissions this month, keeping up with weekly Prelude and Volume 5 updates, Boneitis and me may be on the Thoughtcops podcast soon, and we're prepping for Anthrocon in July. 

Thanks for enjoying the award-winning Undisputed Gateway Furry Saga, looking forward to bringin' you more.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Skirmish Box Sample

BGC: Daytripper


Die once, shame on you.  Die twice, shame on me.  Die three times, and you might be reading Daytripper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLyMlUtQFbs

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Q&A Week 6

37 What is Andurana's internet like? Heavily censored?
Yes and no.  There's a set of whitelisted pages that are licensed by the CCA to disseminate information and content.   The sites of major newscasters and mainstream entertainment content.   Being licensed & whitelisted means complying with an extensive (and ever-changing) list of regulations and rules.  It effectively gives the government discretionary control over who says what, how, and why.    But because of the decentralized nature of their internet- emanating naturally from any data system plugged into living flo-wood- anyone can put anything out there, and it's possible to jump out of the whitelisted system to view all the unregulated content.   Technically it's illegal to post unlicensed content, but virtually everyone is doing it all the time for a huge variety of reasons.  It turns into another one of those legal systems where everyone is breaking the law, giving enforcement officers the ability to use it pretextually for targeting anyone they have a particular interest in.

36 The importance of twins seems to be a recurring theme, do dreamkeepers that have a twin commonly share their power or have it linked (Like with the Indigos.)
Twins can have shared or linked powers, but I'd say that even with twins it's unusual.  Dreamkeepers, even those with close siblings, typically have a power that's more keyed in to them as individuals.  But linked, shared, or otherwise correlated powers can sometimes occur with twins- or even with other familial relations, like father / son, mother / daughter.  But the more distant the relation, the more unlikely it is to have their powers entangled in any manner.

33  Do the CCA have any other types of combat soldier besides the Shock Troopers or at least different sets or armor for different situations
Now that it's too late, yes.   Originally they had only standard-issue armor:  Designed for urban combat, raids, and law enforcement, and also so ranks could lock into a testudo formation.  It's designed for maximum protection during chaotic short-range urban operations.  During the Toll Wars, they were suddenly deployed into the wild north, and engaging in combat with 'bandits' among the dunes.  The radically different terrain rendered their typical tactics and armor woefully inadequate.   Back in Anduruna, they struggled to innovate a new armor and movement system for the shock troopers that would facilitate their longer-range, lighter, faster needs.  Just as the Toll Wars were concluding the new shock trooper light desert armor system was completed and produced.   There is now no purpose for it, but several thousand sets of desert light-armor stand in storage, ready to be used in the unlikely event of another bandit war.
Within Anduruna they use their standard-issue armor.  However, since district police are technically not permitted lethal weapons, shock troopers often have to work with local cops on drug raids and other law enforcement activity that involves zero combat.   In such situations, often shock troopers will ditch the bulkier armor plates and other bits of encumbering gear.  This is strictly against regulations, but helps them do their tasks more effectively.   If a shock trooper is injured on a call, and wasn't wearing their full gear, it will be hell for their commanding officer.  Different districts and units are more or less strict about policing gear usage during non-combat jobs.

31 How long will Prelude be?
Short answer:  I dunno. 
Longer answer:  We're bridging the gap to Volume 1, and we have a handful of story arcs and events plotted out to hit in Prelude.  We also like to let Prelude breathe a little more, and get playful when something fun presents itself.   I'd estimate, very very roughly, that we're maybe 1/4 through Prelude.   We have Lilith and Namah developmenets- for instance, how they come to know their fugitive uncle- Mace and Whip developments,  that explain Bobby, Vi, Paige, and Randy, and also plot to take Vanth and Bast from their origin here to their situation in Volume 4.   With hopefully a lot of fun along the way.

29 Why was everyone so emotionally distant to Mace in volume 4?
They were distracted with spelunking and Nightmare attacks- those have a way of distracting the mind.  Plus, none of them know Mace terribly well yet, and he's socially not the smoothest fella.  He may be the main character, but he's got his work cut out for him in regard to the rest of the cast. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Caption Contest!

We're using a fresh never-before-seen Volume 5 page.  What are Nainso and Tia actually saying? 

https://dreamkeepers.deviantart.com/art/Caption-Contest-2018-Image-748201267


Patreon backers will find out later.  For now, YOU are in command.

Fill the word balloons with any dialogue you like, and submit the image here: 

https://dreamkeepers-fans.deviantart.com/gallery/66540267/2018-Summer-Caption-Contest

Deadline is Monday, June 18th at noon EST.  You can submit as many entries as you like.

Liz & I will choose ten finalists, probably based on what makes us laugh the hardest- and then the DK Moderator team will vote on the finalists until one wins. 

(DK Moderators may enter the contest, but cannot vote for their own entry.)

All ten finalists win a Dreamkeepers button pack.  FINALLY.

The Ultimate Master of Funny, the Caption Contest winner will also score the original pencil lineart that goes with this page. 

As for rules:  If you're allowed to post it on Deviantart, go nuts!  Put your caption text right in the image- it's more fun to read that way.

Thanks to the backers for hitting the Production Milestone and unlocking this contest.  Have fun, and enjoy everyone's entries. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Q&A Week 5

32 What are the most commonly seen power levels and how rare are the high levels?

Among dreamkeepers who unlock their ability, beginning at a power of Level 2 is most common, and Level 6 is the most rare.   Most 'keepers that begin at level 2 can eventually train and end up with a Level 3 power, so Levels 2 and 3 are the most common.    I'd say level 4 powers are maybe one in ten, level 5one in a thousand, and level 6 one in a hundred thousand.


29 Are you guys comfortable having a sexually open and addictive audience like the one you have now? Does it freak you out sometimes?

Fanart doesn't bother us, whether it's adult or not.  There's plenty of Batman porn floating out there, too, but I wouldn't call Batman fans 'sexually addictive.' Once anything gains a significant following, rule 34 applies.  Especially if the characters are charismatic and, whether through appearance or personality or both, hold some level of attraction.  Policing people's private enjoyment isn't our job, so we don't feel the need to endorse or denounce fanfiction and fanart.  It's separate from what we create, but also an indicator of relevance.  We consider it best to take it as a compliment.


27 Is Lilith's power able to restore Igrath's eyes?

This question is skirting the edge of Plot Vault, simply because it could potentially involve things not yet covered in the story.  But I think we can give at least a basic answer, to explain the limitations of Lilith's power.  She can initiate growth and healing in damaged tissues, but she cannot generate entire organs and limbs from nothing.  Even if it's heavily damaged, there has to be something there to be healed.



24 What kind of training to the CCA shock troopers go through? Tough training like USMC MCRD? Or simple law enforcement like the police

Shock troopers go through a rigorous boot camp to train for a range of basic skills before they're officially instated.  Springer use, fire and movement, squad tactics, hostage rescue, that sort of thing.  This is on top of classroom and academic training on protocol, chain of command, and legal matters.   Officers selected for the training program will be training in boot camp for 3 months (with some leave days) before being certified as entry level shock troopers. 
Training continues throughout their career.  Shock troopers are 'on call' for a week at a time, and sleep at the local HQ.  Then they have a week rotated out of active service, where they spend time with family.  Their off-weeks are also used to take elective and mandatory training courses to upgrade, specialize, and maintain their skills.


22 What kind of picture do you enjoy drawing the most?

I think my favorites have become those that mix some characters in action with an immersive environment.  One of the major features of Dreamkeepers is the thriving fantasy world- so getting a fun emotive character moment, or spot of action, within a fascinating context, makes everything that much more engaging to me.  Especially when lighting comes into play. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Inherent Limitations of Free Speech and Expressions of Guilt

Thank you to my friends for their help in shaping and improving the thoughts below.

*     *     *     *     *

Prior to posting my 'Nazi Prevention' article, I made a prediction:

That Dogpatch Press editorial staff would maliciously poison the well, and that their readership would be rabidly unreasonable. 
I've seen several good things occur post-article, and the one which makes me happiest is being proven wrong about the Dogpatch readership. True that a handful resorted to party-line insults, but a plethora of reasonable people came forward, to agree and disagree, in good faith. Most of them only felt comfortable doing so through private channels. This is a fact which stands out in my mind.
The best public response I could find was by Darkend, a talented editor at Sofawolf press. Rather than resorting to ad-hominem, he focused on well-reasoned disagreement directed at the ideas we presented. He was considerate enough to post his thoughts as a journal, and I would encourage everyone to read it. (links at the bottom.)
The community is currently riven with fear and loathing. I'm hopeful that placing emphasis on thoughtful good-will interactions can improve things. So to that end, please express appreciation to Darkend for being willing to speak, and I hope he'll be open to reading if I clarify some of my positions.
Brevity was among my primary concerns in the initial article, which led to me excluding... Well, everything in existence outside of those 2,000 words. That has opened the door to some misinterpretations, which I'd be pleased to address.  One interesting, and one troubling.

Interesting:

Darkend believes that the article "fetishizes" free speech, to the exclusion of all other values, considerations, and consequences. 
I think he's entirely correct that elevating one value above all others, and using that abstraction to subordinate everything, is a bad idea. In fact, such thinking often constitutes the very worst ideas, manifesting as totalitarian ideologies. 
Conceptual systems like these can be identified by their tendency to have one utopian solution for every problem. For Nazis, the solution was ethnic homogeneity. For Stalinists, forced equality of economic outcomes. Others enshrine the idea of free markets, or individual responsibility, or diversity. When totalizing systems are imposed fully scaled and uncompromised upon reality, they degenerate quickly into hellish suffering.
Simple solutions are tempting in a complicated world- in fact, they are necessary.  None of us are capable of fully comprehending the complexity.  Abstractions are an a-priori requirement for making value judgments and decisions.
On an individual level, I think it's healthy to have a handful of different lenses, and more so on a macroscopic social level.
For whatever harm a misguided individual may inflict with their totalitarian obsessions, an entire society can magnify it. And virtually everyone wants to avoid that. In fact, I think we have a common desire:

The minimization of unnecessary human suffering.

So far, it appears that individual rights and freedoms have served that end better than any previous system of concepts. Partially because free speech helps uncover and defuse bad ideas early. Which is why the next perception of Darkend's was troubling to me.
His perception of free speech entailed no philosophically inherent limitations, up to and including stabbing a political opponent in the throat (or punching them in the face.) Blurring the line between speech and murder is dangerous, and for that reason I think it's worthwhile to briefly reiterate what I think most people mean when they are talking about free speech:

Free speech is a mechanism by which the interaction of a diversity of ideas is facilitated.

Information is exchanged, reasoning examined, and suppositions assessed. Using open inquiry to identify bad ideas provides intellectual immunizations that can be shared with those who may be susceptible. Good ideas can be identified and likewise shared.
Conceptualizing free speech in this manner introduces immediate and obvious inherent limitations. Murder and physical violence are used to suppress ideas, not engage with them. Though it may be expressive, throat-stabbing a political opponent is clearly not covered under this definition of free speech. Neither is shouting down a lecturer with obscenities, destroying Berkeley with a riot, pulling fire alarms during speeches, or bringing airhorns into the classroom. Violence, aggression, mislabeling, and bad-faith tactics all obstruct the beneficial mechanics of free speech.
Because this definition provides explicit boundaries and substance to the idea of free speech, I find it more useful, and it's generally what I have in mind. That's why I agree with Darkend when he points out,

"The purpose of some forms of speech, specifically harassment and intimidation, are designed to suppress the speech of others. It's a way to say, 'If you speak up, you'll be next.'" 

I spoke up with my article. Subsequently I received a small but implacable contingent of furries mislabeling me as a Nazi, Nazi sympathizer, and advocating for my ostracization, as publicly as they possibly could.
Observers might class such behavior as harassment and intimidation.  Those same observers do not want to be next.
I believe that is why the majority of thoughtful responses to my article are being shared with me in private. People are afraid.
And I'm not talking about white supremacists. Pro-LGBT conservatives, libertarians, egalitarians, liberals- they are afraid to speak up, because they know what will happen. They might just get called a Nazi and be banned forever.
Is there persecution being conducted along party lines?
I don't know.  Politics has gotten so ugly it seems defined now by deception. False flags and misinformation are the norm.

But I do know a few facts.

I have been accused, publicly and repeatedly, of being a Nazi and a Nazi sympathizer. These accusations are categorically false, and often attached to coy ultimatums, hints that obedience might end the abuse.
I have clarified my position calmly, publicly, and truthfully. Such clarifications are rejected out of hand. It is made clear that only capitulation will suffice. 
I also know for a fact that I am not the only person who has been falsely and maliciously labeled a Nazi or sympathizer. These labels are used by a small and unhappy group within the community as moral justification to act on their feelings of hatred and to exercise social power. Which brings us to another good point that was shared by Darkend. 

"Loosely defined laws restricting speech are almost always turned into tools to oppress minorities."

I believe he meant 'minorities' here to refer to the birth characteristics of an individual, but his point holds true even for literal numeric minorities of people. Even for subdued majorities.
My personal experiences above lead me to assess similar anecdotes with credence. And while I'm grateful that I can simply shrug off the lies and social pressure, those who are less established are often not so fortunate.
Darkend touched on some additional points that merit brief mention.

"
1) FA isn't the government and as such is largely free to choose who they do and do not wish to host. This isn't anyone's free speech issue.
2) "Exluding (sic) the speech of people will only turn them into nazis" is the abuser's "Look what you made me do!"
"

He's correct on point one- private platforms are free to make their own rules, and fair moderation is necessary to maintain a healthy functioning atmosphere.  But it is possible for corporations to infringe on individual rights, and by some accounts, that appears to be happening. 
The second point, I'm not sure how Darkend equates a cause-effect observation to an assignment of guilt. Acknowledging incentives and results doesn't inherently require a scapegoat.
However, seeing this objection appear repeatedly on twitter makes it appear salient. It is being used as a justification for the moral rectitude of social purges, and indicates preoccupation with blame. 
Perhaps it means that people feel guilt, and are eager to redirect it.

What's the truth, and what's spin?  I don't know for sure.
I'm not advocating for or against AltFurry. I'm not particularly keyed in to the politics of the furry community, and I'm not certain what any of these groups actually stand for, so any endorsement- or denouncement- would be hollow. I tend to be quite detached, scribbling away at drawings rather than reading furry news or tuning in to the latest gossip. But when that gossip is resulting in mass expulsions predicated on group affiliation... Well, when an oblivious chap like me can see that things are getting bad, they must be very bad indeed.
I'm hoping that examination and consideration might help us start fixing things together. I would like to thank Darkend for sharing his thoughts, and hope that he finds my response agreeable.

Readers may be interested in digesting more points of view. Below is the original Dogpatch Article I submitted, with the thoughts and feelings of their editorial staff. In the following days QuQu-media posted an article, and 2-Gryphon posted a video which deal with the same subject matter. Also below is a link to redacted screencaps of some of the private notes we received and Darkend's journal.


*     *     *     *     *


Initial Dogpatch Press article and Staff Commentary "The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope" http://dogpatch.press/2018/05/21/the-milo-story-nazi-prevention/

Darkend’s Journal response: https://www.furaffinity.net/journal/8743858/

QuQu-Media "Why political extremism within the furry fandom should deeply concern you." https://ququ-media.com/2018/05/23/why-political-extremism-within-the-furry-fandom-should-deeply-concern-you/

2-Gryphon "Bird Bawks- Altfurry"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44B_GphVpAI

Redacted private commentary:  https://steemit.com/dreamkeepers/@dreamkeepers/redacted-private-commentary

Friday, May 25, 2018

BGC: The BEST COMIC IN THE UNIVERSE.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f97ABz2OvKQ
Operatic lolsuits, podcasts locked in mortal combat, and forgotten in the chaos, a simple question remains.  Did Maddox create the BEST COMIC IN THE UNIVERSE?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Q&A Week 4

47 How much of the population makes use of their powers in secret, similar to Bobby?
Powers "abuse" occurs often enough that the issue stays relevant in the public mind.  At least once a year there will be a highly publicized crime that results in injuries or deaths, followed by a trial and banishment if the culprit is taken into custody alive. 

But the number of criminals using their powers on a regular basis to inflict harm on one another is relatively tiny- ballpark maybe 0.5-2%. 

However, the total number of people who use their powers discreetly is much higher- possibly up around 12%.

Powers use is strictly forbidden by law- which means law abiding citizens won't do it unless they're certain it's not causing harm, and they can get away with it.

So, in isolation and for various reasons, not often but very occasionally, some members of the population tap into their power.  A greater number than most would imagine.  Wouldn't you? 


38 Are there any other cities or dreamkeepers communities out there that Anduruna trades with?
Yes.  This is slightly Plot Vaulty, but I think we can get into it a bit.

During the Toll Wars, a significant portion of Anduruna left the city, illegally, to found their own settlement in the northern dunes.  To this day they are referred to as 'bandits' and it is illegal to do trade with them.

So people trade with them illegally. 

Margate and Talocan are among the primary locations for this illicit trade.  Ships are disguised as local vessels, officials are bribed, and at this point trade with the 'bandits' is virtually an open secret.  Law enforcement has their hands full with other concerns- and if they know somebody is breaking the trade laws, it provides them with a ready-made reason to conduct a raid any time they may choose.

36 What are the Powers of the Troika members?
I'll list some that have already been revealed in the GNS.
Igrath:  His wings generate energy shields that turn them into superpowered barriers, and also devastating blunt weapons. 
Vi: She can generate vortices.  It's easiest to do so in a medium like air, hurling dust devils and hurricane blasts to and fro.
Karo:  His four wings can generate and discharge lightning bolts.
Rumour:  If he touches something, he can generate a portal and reach back to retrieve it, on the condition that the item is still where he left it.
Indigos:  They can change their colors at will, having the same body pattern but inverse coloration to one another.  And, when they use their power at a higher level of intensity, one of their body colors glows, creating a protective energy barrier which provides a buffer to damage.  The catch is, whatever region is protected on one of them is vulnerable on the other.
As of now, the rest of the Troika are still huddling in the Plot Vault.

30 Aside from Ryuu-nekos, what other domesticated or exotic animals do Andurunans keep in their homes?
We depicted a little yappy fluffy thing in Volume 3... But didn't name it.  So, whatever those furballs are. Some of the background critters, like owlbats or butterfly mantids, could make for pets.  Transcopis slobs are probably the worst of all possible pets, I think those are generally considered more an animal that is used to suck scum off industrial pylons and aqueduct pilings. 

So, short but comprehensive answer:  I think there are many potential creatures and companions that Andurunans may have as pets, but we haven't depicted or formulated much beyond ryuu-nekos. 


21 Do the orphans see each other as brothers and sisters or at least a sort of family?
They would never admit it, but I think yes.   None of them fit in the best at school, one another is pretty much all they've got.
Gorse sees everyone as a dynamic duo.

Upgraded Ursa Major Logo



In light of winning a few, we spruced up the Ursa Major Awards logo.  Voila!

I believe Geo submitted the original image file to the Ursa Major Award administrators, so it should be available to all award winners going forward.  I couldn't resist adding a bit of pizzazz, I hope it comes in handy to present and future winners.

Congratulations again to Geo- interested readers can check out Wayward Astronomer and the Dreamkeepers Saga here:
 https://www.thewaywardastronomer.com/
http://dreamkeeperscomic.com/home.html

The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope

We've received numerous requests for a version of our article without the interjections of Dogpatch Press editorial staff. It is presented below. Readers are encouraged to browse the original article as platformed by Dogpatch on the Dogpatch Press website, and to provide due credit to them for initially publishing the article.  Our thanks to Dogpatch press and to the readers who took an interest in our thoughts.


 By David Lillie.  
Thanks to @Boneitis and  @kaze_the_wyvern  for providing constructive feedback and advice.



You may be reading this to check whether it's okay to continue hating me.  Let's cut to the chase and give that a simple yes.
I create the best comic I'm capable of rendering; but I also drew Milo as a snow leopard, and occasionally shake my head at the firestorm it caused.  Since I still think it was funny, your hatred is socially acceptable.  Including acceptable by me. I'm not holding it against you. It's just how you feel.
So we've covered the hatred question, but you may still be curious about why I changed my opinion regarding Nazis in the furry community. Especially if you think Nazis are a problem. Because I agree with you, and previously I did not.
(Any Nazis reading this just began considering whether they, too, should hate me.)
We've established I'm not writing this article in the hopes of reducing the number of people on twitter hostile towards me. So why would I change my mind, if personal social approval is off the table? 
To establish a starting point, let's examine a common question about the Milo fursona.

"What were you thinking?"

Generally my mind is in one of two places; the next comic page, or hare-brained marketing schemes.  Aspiring content creators may relate to the constant drive for experimentation, improvement, and the hope for success.
During some of my many thousands of hours of drawing I listened to a podcast by Milo. I knew him as a provocateur attracting massive crowds and protesters while advocating free speech and being banned from twitter. The controversy swirling around him was many things, and entertaining was one of them.
I heard him do a live-read advertising, of all things, cars. Talk about boring. Too bad he wasn't promoting something interesting. Like a webcomic... Like a furry webcomic. Like OUR furry webcomic!
The idea popped into my head like a Robin Williams punch line, and I laughed.
One of culture's most controversial figures, promoting a furry comic.  The thought was so absurd, I had to at least try for it and see what would happen. I probably wouldn't be capable of pulling off such an advertising coupe. No publicist, no ad agency, no form of professional representation.
But it turns out I could.
And I did.
Milo’s audience heard all about Dreamkeepers, and then he became a snow leopard.
If you're concerned about social problems, and shaming others into agreement is a tactic you sometimes use, what happened next might be of interest to you.

I was called the usual assortment of smears that we're all so familiar with, whether we're hitting with them, or being hit by them. Fascist, alt-right, x-phobe, Nazi.
Now, was the pitchfork crowd aware that the labels they flung at me were inaccurate? I can't say. I have difficulty reading minds. 
But I know my own mind (a little), so from my perspective it was obvious those labels were wrong. I don't identify as a fascist, and my values are incompatible with fascism. The credibility of my accusers thus dipped a bit, and not just their personal credibility. Being falsely labeled confirmed for me that these labels were used falsely, broadly, as a disingenuous social weapon.
I shrugged off the pitchforkers seeking to apply shame and control, because, no thanks. We carried on drawing things, sharing art, and having a good time.
Now remember, you are permitted to hate me for all of this, as we established at the beginning. That's fine. I don't identify the way you have labeled me, and you're allowed to be upset about that.
But the takeaway here is that, even for oddly agreeable fellows like myself, social shaming tactics are losing effectiveness. The hammer still has force- but everyone has been pummeled so long, over such trivial or fallacious things, that hardened shells have become mainstream. Shame doesn't work. That weapon has been removed from our arsenal of social correctives. And as it happens, we may have disarmed ourselves at just the wrong moment. 
I'm starting to get worried about Nazis. Now, when I say that, I don't mean Dave Rubin. (I could take ‘im.) Allow me to briefly clarify how I conceptualize "Nazi."
I don't use it in the colloquial sense of "person outside my political tribe."  I'm talking about a fringe ideology that opposes individual rights, seeks to purge all disagreement from society, and minimizes historic mass murders.
The left-leaning readers are pulling their hair in frustration at that definition, thinking, "Yes you idiot, that's what we've been telling you this entire time! There are actual Nazis, we're not making this stuff up!"
I hear you, and you’re correct.
Real people exist who are Nazis.  I'm sure you can find examples who are not Dave Rubin, and they will be valid examples of very bad Nazis. There were valid examples a few years ago, and before then as well.
The existence of a few people thinking totalitarian thoughts doesn't concern me then, nor now.   I'm concerned because of a major contextual social shift.

Moral credibility.

  Up until now, mainstream society was generally Nazi-proof because of one universally accepted truism;  that Nazis were morally reprehensible. Nobody would ever vote for a Nationalist Socialist political party, because there wasn't one single good thing about Nazis.
Or at least, there wasn't.
The door is opening to Nazis having some mainstream appeal, and here is why.
Public perception is beginning to register Nazis as defenders of free speech.
If you disagree, just check this for yourself.  How often do you see online conversations touching on the topics of Nazis and free speech at the same time?
That proximity alone, repeated often enough, will form a link in people's minds long after they forget the context of the arguments.
If that impression solidifies, then we have destroyed the decades-long public consensus that there is nothing good about voting for Nazis. People will start saying, "Well, I disagree with their French foreign policy, but at least somebody is defending free speech."
What's even worse, the furry community's efforts to eradicate Nazis are making this catastrophic impression- this idea that Nazis defend free speech- correct.
If you fight Nazis by revoking their civil rights, then they will defend themselves by advocating for civil rights.
The moral high-ground is the one thing Nazis never had. It is a massively powerful weapon, and we are giving it to them, for free.
Please, let's all stop giving Nazis the moral high ground. It's easy. We can disarm them by simply respecting everyone's civil rights. 
Many will rush to explain that no civil rights are being violated. Perhaps you are technically correct- let's not argue the legal minutiae outside of court. If it satisfies your desire for accuracy, every time you hear "violating civil rights" simply replace it in your mind with "deplatforming, demonetizing, censoring, and social banishment, with no criminal charges, no trial, and no recourse."
Many of the people being purged are not Nazis at all.  Not even a little bit.  Tossing around hateful labels like ticker-tape at a parade makes these kinds of civilian casualties inevitable. And they are mounting.
The recent Furaffinity purge provides the latest examples. 
People with no ties to the alt-right have had their accounts nuked, being told opaquely "you're not the sort of person welcome in our community."
Many just want access to their account back, even briefly, so they can save copies of favorited art, gather their posts and journals from past years, and consider if they can take their belongings to find a new home.  One where they won't be banished for reasons that are never disclosed. 
In the furry community's zeal to expunge “Nazis,” you might anticipate another unintended consequence.
Fearful people gravitate towards group identity, for protection. 
I will let you deduce what happens when raving headhunters add notches to their belt and gloat over scalps.
A few furs will choose to live in fear.  Re-reading every tweet, anxiety spiking as they second-guess each joke, knowing one wrong move could end their social existence in the oh-so-welcoming community, but hoping the next person to be cast out will be a different member of the herd. 
But for every furry who stays quiet and toes the line, more will stay quiet and drift away from the headhunters, into the opposing camp.
During the Milo fursona days every public tweet or comment bullying us would correspond to roughly ten private messages or e-mails expressing solidarity with our actions, and fear of the online mobs. 
The furry community is devolving into one defined by anxiety, insecurity, and fear.
I’ll repeat it, in case you didn’t feel the psychic surge of readers around the globe nodding mutely in assent.

We are creating a climate of fear.

One where polarized factions misrepresent one another.  One where artists, working maniacally to build up a career, live in fear of being next on the chopping block, their hopes and dreams just more collateral damage.  We’re creating a community where any creator who fails to join a rigid political bloc risks being caught alone in the crossfire between the two. 
On our current path, we’re only a few years away from politically segregated conventions. That will take the reciprocal ugliness and intolerance that exists online, and make it worse. We can only throw so many people out of the fandom before it generates an entire rival community. That’s a road we don’t have to go down. 
Now, I’m not telling you to start liking Nazis. I don’t like them- every time I see those movies, I’m rooting for Indiana Jones.
I can see a better future for the fandom, and it doesn’t require us to join hands and sing kumbaya. Dislike some art? Explain why in a comment. See people agreeing to a bad idea? Explain why it’s bad. Want to shun a person? Use your block button, and don’t invite them to your parties.
But we have to exist together in the same society. We can curate our personal social circle- but we cannot claim personal ownership and curation rights over the entire fandom. Law abiding people, even those who disagree with us, must have access to publicly accessible social events, publicly accessible online platforms, the ability to earn revenue, and basic civil rights.
That’s a pact I can support. Even if I disagree with someone, and even if they’re a genuinely bad person, if they follow the law I won’t try to demonetize them, deplatform them, or eject them from the broader community and its gatherings.  (Openly or otherwise.)
It’s my hope we’ll move towards a future where the furry community truly is a welcoming place. Where people can disagree and have political spats, then grab a beer together, or play the latest game, or go nuts on the dance floor. A community that doesn’t mandate opinions. A community where anyone can draw anything. (Yes, even that.)
In world like that, it’ll be awfully hard for Nazis to pose as free-speech defenders.  I won’t have to worry about culture siding with them.  I can laugh at the occasional outrageous Nazi fursuiter, and then continue living in a society that stands for individual rights and against totalitarian social purges- regardless of who is doing the purging. A society where silly people can advocate crazy ideas which the majority will never take seriously, because the ideas crumble under scrutiny. Where we can create any sort of fiction imaginable.
It’s just a hope, not instructions. You’re free to agree or disagree. I’ll still greet you with a smile if you ever decide to swing by, and support your right to viably participate in the community, your right to contribute color, life, and stupid opinions. If I don't support those rights for you, god knows nobody will support them for me.  I think we can do that much for one another.