Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Desert Peach and Stinz on WebcomicsNation

It's going to take months to run all the new Desert Peach and Stinz AFTERDEAD strips at Webcomicsnation.

I have a whole new 64-page book to scan, including a lot of color and a night at the roller derby.

I'm getting closer to just putting all the books up at Lulu Going through distributors almost doubles the prices on all books, even more on color books.

Why should retailers and customers pay so much for books when they can just go get it from Lulu? They even have cheap shipping and bulk rates.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Throw pennies at the artist

Remember the two mad musicians in the Pixel short, begging for pennies?

Now YOU can throw pennies at an artist! Head over to the AFTERDEAD page and buy a ProjectWonderful ad.

Advertise your own book. Share your pictures. Or your own blog. Or your LOLkatz. Or just tell everybody how much you love my stuff (you know you do).

All you need to do is build a cool little banner and buy some micro-payments ads.

Our grandmas know how to do that now!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another Desert Peach Gone

Just sold out -- to the very last copy -- of The Desert Peach #16, "Plight Of The Phoenix."

And that is IT for that issue. I don't know of any other publishers who have it, even in their attics -- we've found all of those. You can check out Prism Comics at regular shows, and see what they've got, but I'm their supplier, and we're all running low.

I'm getting closer all the time on other books, including the early MU press books and even some of the A Fine Line Press books.

Desert Peach #1 and #2 are starting to go for about $20.00. #26, "Miki," is up to $9.00.

So if you actually collect these things, the old issues are going away. Grab the Everything Box at the Little Store (see link in the left column) while some of these things are still on hand.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Peach and Stinz and Barr Girls on Webcomicsnation

The Webcomicsnation AFTERDEAD series has a RSS feed, and loads a new strip on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It's free! The advertisers on Project Wonderful pay for it.

Peach is still trying to help Stinz get out of breeding for the AfterReich,* even though Stinz is convinced that's the only way he can save his kids from becoming cannon fodder.

(German-speaking readers will get THAT pun).

Even the Barr Girls -- I had a lot of fans for those people -- get a cameo. Those are the leggy Girls in the black:

Finally catching up with the processing of older pages so I can get back to drawing new ones! Once I catch up, things can get rolling again.

Just finished scanning all the color stuff from AFTERDEAD 1.3 - until the big collections go out, or unless MagCloud or ComicXpress work for economical magazine sizes, Webcomicsnation may be the only place you can see full color, except for a few examples on DeviantArt and here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not My Famous Diary

Delaine Derry Green's long-running mini-comic anthology series Not My Small Diary is asking for submission for the next issue. These always have a theme -- this time it's Meeting A Celebrity.

I got mine in first. The books are black-and-white, but that's an easy transfer from RGB to grayscale:

Aren't they nice?

Latest Amazon/Booksurge thang:

The Amazon rep called up and oh so nicely said, with the new Booksurge contract -- and a total favor to me (I should be grateful, right?) -- would be wiping the accounts I owed them because of the older model of contracts they originally had with authors. Quote: "We'll start fresh."

This makes me wonder if they're wiping all these accounts that owe them money because of the right-hand-pays, left-hand-bills model they're using.

The rep didn't want to hear about the Lulu model (customer -- including retailers if they directly to the site -- covers manufacturing costs, shipping, small profit fees to author and Lulu) that ultimately keeps the prices down for the customer. Can I say "huffy"?

He attempted to pat me on my head by telling me I didn't know about professional publishing. Yes, I think I'm quite aware of over-orders, returns and shredded books. The only professional distributors who get it right are in comic books: leftover books are sold, then discounted, finally given away as loss leaders. If a comics retailer gets a damaged book from me, they have only to GIVE it to a likely-looking customer. It never fails: a few bucks given away results in a brand-new addict rushing back in for an order that can come to $125.00 on the spot.

When I spoke to prose authors early in my career, they were quite starry-eyed about getting 50 cents a book. Now I know about manufacturing costs, shipping, etc., and considering the retail costs of books, I'd like to ask: what are the publishers and distributors doing -- shipping those books in golden boxes? Or is the money being dumped into the huge waste model of returns and shredding? It's going somewhere -- who's getting it?

Booksurge was set up by prose authors, who don't want to know. Comics authors know because of our ridiculous censorship model that put our art form in the toilet -- and which we are gradually hauling back out with the roto-rooter of independing publishing and a lot of female authors -- who have to work outside the boxes because the art form didn't give a damn about us.

Oh, and Amazon now say, "WE pay the manufacturing costs." Oh, so that's not the customer's money? Where are they getting this money they're calling "theirs?" Same place governments get theirs?

That's the customer's money. I don't want 30% of the net -- I want a rock-bottom cost that covers manufacturing, shipping, and a bit of cash to the printer, author and distributor. Customers can afford to buy more, so more money all around. More books distributed. More books in the long run.

Then again, with the new electronic-reading devices, this may all be moot anyway.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Amazon and Booksurge Are Run By Idiots

I've recently been trying to get it through the little pin heads of the actual human beings at Booksurge/Amazon that they cannot give Amazon a 55% markup AND the author a 30% cut OF THE GROSS.

This has caused massive confusion and anger among thousands of Booksurge publishers an authors, who were never told it was not out of the NET.

We've been trying to figure out for years why the publishers and authors keep getting billed for manufacturing costs, when in POD the customer is supposed to be covering those. A wienie accountant did her job recently very thoroughly -- as she's supposed to -- and sent out thousands of dunning notices for thousands of dollars, and this is when this screwup came to the surface.

I've told them to go look at how works -- customer pays for manufacturing and shipping, and throws a little fee at Lulu, and a couple bucks for the author, for each book. One action, one time, and every month Lulu dumps a payment into the my Paypal account. If we want to see our accounts they're right there on the site.

Booksurge CAN't cover manufacturing costs. No matter how high we mark our prices -- screwing the customer -- we can't get the costs high enough to get around that 30% cut. Later, they expect us to turn around and write them a check from the money they sent us. Since nobody's known this was from the gross, we've not budgeted to pay it back. They pay with one hand and expect it back with the other.

In real terms, this means thousands of publishers cannot pay back Booksurge. Amazon is wrapped up in these payments.

I'm glad I haven't got any stock in Amazon....

(PS; when Bank of America pulled out of Clallam Bay, I said it was to get into the mortgage bubble and have the cash to grab foreclosed properties when the crash came. I also said Soviet Union practiced "state capitalism" not "communism" {which has only ever been practiced in its true form by small villages run by women). So pay 'ttention when I start pointing. Cassandra said Troy would burn.})

Sunday, August 17, 2008

AFTERDEAD on Webcomicsnation

If you haven't already got an RSS feed to AFTERDEAD, head over and get one at Webcomicsnation.

The Desert Peach series continues to be posted on the net, and collections made from the postings.

For you Stinz fans, the big black stallion has a big part in the series. The Peach is in his command and right now the Peach is trying to help him get out of breeding for the Reich, going so far as to intercede with the Afterdead Pope; guess who?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Insupportable Light Ships In December

The new revised "An Insupportable Light" will ship in December, not in November. So you have one more month to get those copies ordered. Since Diamond sends out orders in November, and I hit for books as soon as I get the order, you should still be safe ordering for the winter holidays.

Note: still negotiating with Amazon/Booksurge as they cluelessly scramble to figure out how to sell and track accounts for POD (A problem Lulu solved 10 years ago, and is still improving).

If a Booksurge book comes out at Amazon, you'll be able to tell it from a Lulu book, because the Lulu books have dark green (as in the attached illo) where the Amazon books will have purple.

The books that ship from Diamond will be from Lulu. Lulu books are better priced and better quality -- but give your comics shop a break and order from them! first, if you can afford to.

Diamond is still a good company (those of you tearing your hair over our beloved <>, believe me, compared to the rest of the publishing industry, they are a dream. And they keep track of accounts accurately and immediately.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Did Has Cheezburger

Okay, I had to do one: at I Can Has Cheezburger

And one more: Sheep

(This site is like popcorn!)

Comics as Art and Literature

The Drawn Book As Art And Literature
(Originally composed for an academic comics symposium)

As proof that the drawn book is art and literature, I am going to build my article around one publication or source: my own books.

I have chosen this approach because my work is original. It is not couched in the “comics” tradition. I did not learn to draw or write in that tradition. My work entered that publishing world fully formed after years of private practice..

If anything, my work is based in the classical arts and literatures of the world. My first writing model is Kipling, with his poetic English, flavored with the Hindi vernacular with which he was raised. My own work reflects my long study of the German language (including a B.A. in German language and Literature, from Ohio State University) with its ability to easily express complex and esoteric concepts. It's hard to say complicated things in English. German, with the pop-bead nature of its syllabic and meaning system, allows a speaker or writer to construct brand-new words to express the most nuanced meanings. A German writer can readily express new concepts with words never found in the dictionary. For example, rather than researching the German word for “centaur,” I constructed Halbpferd, literally “half-horse.” The German word is from the Greek, Kentaur, but I wanted a native construction to express the folk nature of the tales I would be telling (It happened that Halbpferd has already been used in German literature as a word for “centaur.”).

My artwork shows influences of several line-drawing traditions, most of them folk or ancient, and therefore anonymous. The strongest influence is one which has worked upon much of the art of the western world for more than a century – the tomb paintings of ancient Egypt. This typically African art, with its supremely refined sense of line and weight, its attenuated physical forms and design-like repetitive patterns, its use of sacred design symbol, in everything from the edge of a linen skirt to thousands of leaves or waves of water, has always been a model for my own art.

Raised in the Pacific Northwest region of the American continent, I was also very much influenced by the native Form-Line designs, as described by Bill Holm in his now-classic Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form. The dignity and clarity of the form, with its powerful sweeping lines and paring down of detail, as well as the de-construction and re-construction of natural forms into what can almost be read as a form of hieroglyphic (i.e., a killer whale with a human eye form is not a killer whale, but a man in killer whale form, or a killer whale wearing human form while interacting with the human world), did much to help me form my own viewpoint of the line-work form.

One of my former publishers, Edd Vick, has said that I had almost re-invented the comic form independent of any extant tradition. Without reference to published comics, I built stories using art and writing, placing six equal panels, divided purely for mathematical balance, upon each page. The original manuscripts of this work can be found in San Diego State University Library's Special Collections (refer to:

When I was first approached by an editor, Steve Gallacci of Thoughts and Images, and later published by Eclipse Comics, I did very little to bring my style into line with that more traditionally used by mainstream comics. Without changing the style of either my art or writing, I opened up the layout and made it more approachable by a public. Other than that, I retained my artistic control.

Part of the problem with comics, and the reason they have been considered a mere production model, was that they were based on teams. These teams were originated by Will Eisner, one of the founding developers of the first forms. His own work – especially in his well-received A Life, In Pictures -- uses fiction to tell the story of ancestors and relatives, especially one man who paid less talented workers to become part of a production-line that produced painted faux wood bedsteads, freeing up this man to do more of the artistic work. Eisner introduced this own method in his early publication career, bringing together a group of artists and writers who were happy to do piece work in a production-line atmosphere.

This production-line method works if the creator is a writer, an artist, a colorist or letterer – but what about the author who can do it all? Eisner was one of these, but in opening the field to the less versatile members of the artistic community, he trapped other artists -- like himself capable of completing the project on their own -- in a system based on nothing but piece work, with no options or opportunities for the complete author.

While very few of the writers, artists, or letterers involved in comic books can be viewed as second-rate talents, this model informed the whole future of the art form. Creators were viewed as simply replaceable cogs, in a culture of imitation that supported nothing but a publisher marketing model.

Mr. Eisner meant well, but mis-interpretation of the system by others who didn't understand his original purpose, has led to an art-form that traditionally became as cookie-cutter as a Ford assembly line. A creator of Eisner's stature as a thoroughbred could work within the system without becoming a driven hack. Very few others could. A writer or artist, no matter how talented, could be replaced by the next rising young star -- with an art style that looked just like the old guys' – and often was, because the star author's salary and fees had risen with his career, and anyone who could be hired at a much lower entry cost to the publisher could threaten a career. Worse, the individual creator who could accomplish all parts of this extremely labor-intensive art form was forced into the piece-work model. Small wonder that the writing and art in comics has been so hard to tell apart. Individuality was always at the mercy of the bottom line.

Enter the computer and the internet. In a very short time, print-on-demand technologies, such as the very accessible and more professional (acquired by as its POD supplier) opened up the printing field to everyone. All a creator needed was the ability to use basic Adobe programs, or scrape up a few bucks for layout at one of the upload sites.

Marketing ranged from private websites to's Advantage and Marketplace programs. Artists and writers like Jane Irwin became marketplace masters. Her list of distributors is one of the best ( Her own Vogelein books are a clear example of the kind of talent and originality that can flourish is a creator is allowed to fly free.

Webcomics have blasted open the walls of traditional comics in everything from layout to payment plans. As an example, Joey Manley's – later expanded into the empire – allows total creator control. Creators can even make their own ad deals on the sites through www.projectwonderfulcom Without the stultifying control of market-based genres, authors are free to create thousands of different forms, with a grace and complexity comparable to any literature or art form.

Comics can become a true form of art and literature now, because there is nothing to control or stop it, even more than in prose publishing. Comics creators are very publishing savvy. To be a self-publisher is a mark of honor within the field, because it reflects – on top of amazing talent and the ability to turn out masses of incredible work -- a business sense and work ethic unlike anywhere else in publishing. Comics authors commonly have their own series of ISBNs, and know where to get SANs, ISSN's and LCCN's. They know how to use all the Adobe layout and upload software.

Prose authors, on the other hand, may be falling into the former comics trap. Once the Harry Potter series comes to an end, any author who may fit the bill, regardless of style or ability, can be grabbed and sent into that marketing niche. Prose authors, without knowledge of how to control their own art form, are quickly being chopped into genres as cookie cutter as any of the old tights-n-fights comics series. The only prose forms which may retain their individuality are poetry and mystery – the latter will accept any form of story or style as long as a mystery is stuck into it somewhere.

Traditional publishers count on genre or box thinking to make their products more marketable. It seems as though the No-Child-Left-Behind test system in America are breaking down the ability for original thought, or at least that seems to be its intent. Again, the internet, with its constant accessibility for discussion, dispute and research, may be doing an end-run around what seems to be the attempt of the New School system to lower the educations levels (actual intent of the system to be discussed in another place). While the average reader is content with genre books directed at the perceived housewife or teenager, the comic book reader is the very market that has refused to be kept at the box level, and knows how to get around or past it.

With full freedom of marketing and production, comics creators have been writing about the entire range of human experience, from tragedy to comedy – often in the same books, following the long European tradition of the ambiguity of existence. Art forms are being built from all the traditions of the world and all time, or being developed independently by artists who are as free as their art.

The day may come when the prose writers learn how to get out of the boxes and join the revolution. Will Eisner's original intent of artistic freedom for artists and writers may be realized at last.

Donna Barr 29 August, 2007

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Story With Legs

Like a lot of other writers, I make part of my living as a journalist.

I never thought I'd get involved in the Canadian severed-foot story but here's my contribution, as the first reporter on the scene: Peninsula Daily News

Most of this is mine (the quotes, especially), and a little bit from a reporter from KOMO TV (PDN and KOMO have a gentleman's agreement to assist each other on stories -- a lot of these stories would never get covered completely without reporters sharing photos, notes, press release sources and rides). Paige Dickerson is just the re-writer; she was never on the scene.

My original article is at Associated Content. (Which changed the title to add "Clallam Bay" -- which is more than 20 miles of twisty road and beach to the west of the find site). It shows the undersheriff pointing out the area on maps. It also shows the original quotes.

It's also why I haven't been working on my other commissions and stuff for the past couple days. Which, when you consider the commissions have already paid and the PDN is WAY behind on payments, I don't know why I'm doing things backwards. Ah, publishers; The Dark Side of writing.

I don't think I did the guy from Channel 13 a favor when he asked me, "Is it far?" and I said, "Oh, just a short walk."

I forgot it's a couple switchbacks straight up and down through the woods. Since we've been walking on the beach, this is "a short walk" for me, now. I hope he doesn't hate me now.

The reporter from KOMO 11 was dressed for SeaFair -- the Seattle downtown affair, that would be hot in the summer -- and then they told her to come out here; she was freezing. Note to journalists: BRING A COAT. And a pair of rubber boots. If you're going to a tribal affair, bring a fancy jacket; you never know if you're going to get invited to dinner or cover a treaty signing with Spain. In winter, don't forget a cell phone, a blanket and a thermos of hot coffee.