Amazon, Smashwords, and Comixology

I am in the process of converting our comics into ereader friendly comics.

The fact that it’s taking me forever to convert webcomic pages into ereader formats is an irony that is not lost on me. (In my defense, there are so many different settings, page sizes, and then the upload process itself. It’s… time consuming.)

A quick run-down of thoughts:

Comixology

Comixology is the reason I started converting all these files to digital.*

Comixology is the big one that I see all my comic friends talking about. It was a bit of a long and involved process (some of it due to their vetting of submissions, but most of it due to the fact that I can’t seem to stay focused long enough to finish any one project in a timely manner.) I finished setting up our profile in late June (or July? time has no meaning to me) and sent in the first Era issue. It was accepted fairly quickly, but then came the long wait while they “processed” it.

While Comixology was setting up the first issue of Era, I was riding high on a feeling of general optimism, so I decided to tackle the “Amazon Problem,” which is it’s own little area of thought that I’ll get to in a moment. Because every optimistic upswing is followed by a devastating crash (at least, for me) I quickly noticed that I’d sent Comixology the wrong file. When we’d first printed these comics, I’d sent a file with a typo on the first page. I’d thought that I’d long since deleted that page and replaced it, but because the process of getting accepted into Comixology was so long and involved, it turns out I’d started building the ebook before I ever sent the files to get printed (where the guy running the printing press found the typo!)

Horror!

Heading back into the Comixology dashboard, I realized that they were dead serious when they said “If you hit the submit button, there is no options to change your mind, you can not re-edit this comic.” So that’s super embarrassing and permanent.

In the time it has taken for me to get one issue accepted and another submitted to comixology, I’ve made some serious inroads into Amazon. The one really nice thing? We can sell our comics for as low as 99cents!

Amazon

Okay. Deep breath.

There are a lot of things I’m not good at, and figuring out (and filling out) forms is one of them. Amazon is a massive sprawling beast, and in order to do one thing, sometimes you have to do another (unnamed) think first. I finally broke down and instead of submitting another useless email help request, I gave in and asked them to cal me.

Another thing I’m not good at? Talking on the phone.

But the lady at the other end of the line told me in which order to set up my profiles and products. Something that was either reassuring, or not, depending on your point of view, was that she was also googling answers to questions that I was asking. I found that particularly empowering because I’m fairly good at googling answers (it’s how I got through my college electronic arts class).

After setting up a seller’s account and putting up the two physical comic books we have (All the Growing Things and Vagus Project**) I was then able to make an author profile at Amazon’s Author Central. From there I was able to dig around and get into the KDP dashboard which is how all the digital publishing magic happens at Amazon.

(My author page, linking to all our uploads at Amazon)

Whereas Comixology wanted high-resolution tiffs compiled into a high-res pdf, Amazon will take whatever you have. I used their Comic Creator to set up everything up, and because double-page spreads are important to me, I had to turn some other features off. There’s also supposed to be a way to insert a page where you can have text (and hypertext) that the kindle can resizes and manipulate, but I was never able to figure that out, no matter how much I wanted to.

The Comixology dashboard is pretty stripped down, while the Amazon dashboard is a maze of choices and decisions. At Comixology I was able to set the price to whatever I want (as long as it ended in 99cents – no freebies at comixology, or at least if there were, I couldn’t figure it out). Amazon on the other hand puts in price requirements based on your file sizes (and my files are huge.) People always joke “why would you ever take a 35% cut from Amazon when you have the option to take a 70% cut?” The answer to that is when you have a massive file (AtGT the digital book is about 70mb) Amazon will cut out all profit, citing that the “delivery” is too expensive if you don’t charge more (I chose 4.99 for the digital book.) While I didn’t lose money selecting the 70%, I didn’t make any money either. I was at a deficeit. But when I selected the 35% option, I now make a $1.70 for every $4.99 ebook that sells.

Smashwords

Pricing! Many authors I follow talk about using Smashwords as a control for pricing at Amazon. It doesn’t always work, and when it does it doesn’t work fast, but it’s still a thing I’d like to try!

I am looking forward to figuring out Smashwords, only at this point I need to use a Word doc to build my comics, and I don’t have Word. I have Open Office, and I guess it inserts a bunch of crummy code when you try to build your book. John, on the other hand, has Word, but only on his work computer… which means I sort of hover around his office, waiting for him to get off work. By the time he IS off work, he’s too exhausted to struggle his way through the Smashwords Style Guide.

I’d like to use Smashwords to offer the first of the ebook issues for free (regardless of the fact that the comics are free on the website), and then drop the rest to 99cents, and I have it in my head that Smashwords is the only way to do price matching with Amazon – I’ve read a lot of stuff about that, but “reading” and “doing” are two different things, so we’ll see what it is I actually “know.”

Another hesitation is that the file size requested for images is something like 600 pixels x 800 pixels, which seems incredibly small to me. I’m not a fan of how small the text looks at the larger sizes, and this seems just way too small to me.

Notes:

* Seriously, it drives me nuts to say that because I drew them digitally to begin with! However, the entire time I was/have been creating pages, I’ve been planning for print, so there is a substantial switch-up with how I’ve had to think/re-think my process.

** These two books are the only ones we make money on. The single issue comics (Era Issues, AtGT issues), were a small print run from a local printer. The cost per unit to print is pretty big ($3.50 – $4.50 per issue) compared to the fact that we sell them for $5 a piece. We make our printing costs back, but not quite enough to pay for printing more.

Well intentioned friends have suggested that we try to sell them for $8 to $10 in order to pay for the books and make a little money, but I don’t think I can sell a black and white 22page comic for that high of a price with a clear conscience. the same well meaning friends have also suggested we color the books, and then sell them for 10$ or so, not realizing just how expensive color printing is, and again, how little people will pay for physical comic issues.

Trade paperbacks (like the Vagus and AtGT book), however, sell fine at higher prices, and are where we make the most of our money back so that we can continue printing and expanding our lines. (I can not wait until we have the first five issues of Era together so that we can print that in one large book!)

Esteem

I’ve been hesitant to post anything  since my hosting provider took my site down on Monday. I have since learned that WordPress multisites tend to be rather CPU intensive, and that some hosting providers don’t even allow them, at least, not on shared servers, which is what this is.

I’ve been looking into various solutions, but if the site goes down again, well, just know that it’ll come up again, eventually.

That said, I’ve been thinking about “self esteem” and “art” and “aikido” and a variety of other things for a while. This is probably all going to come out in a jumble, but I’m going to do my best.

It has come to my attention that several people think I have low self-esteem.

I don’t really argue the point, because, honestly, I’m not really sure I know what self-esteem is. I don’t feel bad about myself. I mean, I do, but that’s usually a depression issue, and I’m pretty aware of it and have other ways of coping and compensating for it. If you were to ask me, “Do you like yourself?” I would say, “Sure, I’m a pretty funny and nice person to be around.” Which sort of leads me to thinking I’m okay on the whole self-evaluation thing.

I think what people pick up on is that there are a lot of things I’m not good at, and I don’t hold back when I critique myself. (And for the record, I mean “critiquing” not “criticizing”). I know I’m not the best artist out there – I’d say I’m not even in the top 30% or 40%. My art tends to be “good enough;” I’d say I’m better than average.

Same with my aikido: I am aware of some of (what I think) are the core concepts, and while I am usually smooth (as opposed to jerking my uke around) and aware (for a given value of “aware”) I am also miles and leagues away from where I want to be. From even where I should be, after six years of practice. I am slow, and I am easily flustered. I forget simple movements, and I concentrate so much on “connection” that I forget we’re supposed to be fighting, not feeling. I think too much, and haven’t trained my body to react properly. Even when I do react well I usually hesitate mid-action and lose the moment.

A lot of this I chalk up to, “Well, I was in school and had to really concentrate on graduating. I didn’t have time to give aikido my all…” But that’s not how it works, is it? You make time for the things, when you really want to.

So maybe, (and here we go, some psuedo-psychology) I identify myself as too much of a person that is “just good enough.” I really do identify myself as “someone who tries, but doesn’t really succeed.” Maybe (and I say this with a shrug) that’s why I’m never able to fully commit myself to aikido as much as I would like to? Maybe it’s why my art has never really pushed past that 30% -40% barrier?

I have found a comfortable area (where I like being me) and where I’m only an average person: not really good at a lot of things, kind of terrible at other things, indifferent about most. Part of this could be in reaction to when I was younger. When I was growing up, I “had to be the best.” No one ever told me I had to, it was just something I was compelled by. I felt that I had to “prove everyone wrong,” and be the most amazing person, ever, in the history of everything.

It was a lot of stress, and I don’t think I ever really excelled at any of the things I tried to do, despite my determination.

When I met John, he would often tell me that things were “okay,” and that projects didn’t have to be perfect. He spent a lot of time wearing away at my type-a personality (and it may surprise those of you that know me now to imagine me as type-a) and while I’m never really and truly “relaxed,” I am happier these days. I’ve learned to accept being average, and that ‘average’ is not a bad thing at all. After all, writing and drawing comics (even if they’re not professional quality,) are things I enjoy.

I know that I no longer have to be “the best” at anything, and while it may seem to some people that I have no drive or ambition, it doesn’t. It just means I don’t get as mad as I used to when I fail, which means (I think?) that I’m more willing to try new things. I’m willing to fail in front of people (even though, honestly, I’d LIKE to be a hotshot and succeed at everything I try, I no longer feel that I have to.)

It also means that I maybe don’t go to aikido classes as much as I should, and that I don’t practice in my sketchbook as much as I want to. Contentment is a mixture of good and bad habits, I think.

This is all pretty long winded. I wanted to write about getting out of an art slump instead, but I think I had to write about this, so you’ll know where I’m coming from in my next post.

 

 

Setup (part5) Finally! ComicPress!

It’s been so long since I’ve installed ComicPress that I really don’t know how to do it anymore. These days I just copy my stylesheet from one comic into another, and then replace the header with the correct one. The things I tend to change are:

  • Background image. I like pattern8 for repeatable background images, although you can always create your own if you’re patient enough to make sure things line up properly!
  • Text and Link colors. If you’re going with a dark background color/image make sure your text is light enough to read. If you have a light background color/image use a darker text. Pick link colors that blend with the feel of your comic – you don’t have to stick to plain black and white. Check out this fantastic Color Wizard to see what kinds of color schemes look great (or not so great) together!
  • Boxes. I don’t know how easy it is in the CSS editor because I use Firebug (below) and get into the styles editor that is just code to muck around, but if you have a REALLY complicated background image, you may want to have colored boxes around your text – otherwise I tend to leave the boxes transparent to “pull” the whole theme together. This is purely a readability issue, and isn’t always necessary!
  • Header Image. You’ll definitely want to hide the text at the top that has your comic’s name, and replace it with a header image that has your comic’s name, and some bad ass art to show off your comic. Even if it’s a stick figure comic you want that bad ass art up at the top!

Video that Comes with Comic Press:

Frump (the guy who maintains ComicPress and Comic Easel) has a great video on how to set up. He moves his camera around a little bit, but you can still see enough of what he’s doing that you’ll be able to figure it out:

What I do differently:

I don’t use chapters (I set my stuff up a few years ago, and I had to migrate over to Comic Easel and all that fun stuff. I messed up a bunch of formatting, and now I don’t mess around with chapters. I’m certain that it’s easier to fix than I imagine, but I just haven’t bothered to mess around with it.

I also tend to get into the guts and us CSS that I find in the Appearance>Editor. I use a Firefox browser with Firebug to help me locate and change CSS.

If you’re interested in going that route, I did a lot of experimental learning (and site breaking) on my own, and then recently found this video. This lady is SUPER helpful with learning how to use Firebug and how to work with CSS.

I used this to put in my header, and different layers of background. I think nowdays you can do most of this from within the Appearance>Customize area, but I’m a bit old fashioned! Either way, I’d HIGHLY recommend putting in an “image” header and hiding the text header – I know I said this already, but I’m saying it again: having an actual image header looks so good, and sometimes people just ignore this. It drives me crazy.

Plug-ins I use:

There are a lot of recommended plug-ins for wordpress and comic press. I use a bare minimum because I hate messing around with this stuff, and because sometimes plug-ins will break your comic site. Just remember to load and install plugins one at a time, and check to make sure your site is still pretty where the viewers can see it before you move on to another plugin.

Easiest way to get these is to go to your wordpress dashboard, then to Plugins>Add New. Search for the plugin and download them from there! I’ve included links to the ones I recommend, but it’s only so you can see (and make certain) you get the ones I’m talking about, instead of something similarly named.

One-Click Child Theme – You NEED this one, even if it looks optional. After you get ComicPress to look the way you want it to by following Frump’s video and playing around with it, you’re going to follow the instructions on the One-Click plugin and make THIS your new theme. Any theme (not just ComicPress) you use and like, you should make a One-Click version of it. Child themes help protect your site when new versions  of a theme roll out, and they keep you from losing a lot of the customization that you’ve put into it.

Askimet – this helps with spam, and by “helps” I mean it hides about 1000 pieces of spam I get, and only maybe  2-3 slip through to my email every once in a while. It’s pretty crazy awesome. It comes installed with wordpress, so just follow the instructions to get your API key and activate it!

JetPack is the plugin that tells me that people actually read my comics and blog (on a good day, maybe about four people or so) while  Google Analytics is the one that tells me I’m alone in the internet and that no one cares and I should quit drawing comics and go get a real job. Everyone seems to recommend both and I figure that between the two of them, I have a better idea as to who’s actually seeing my stuff. (All two of you!)

Neat to have:

All In One Favicon let’s you put a little icon up in the tab of your browser for your comic! If you look, typodmary has a little ghost thingy. It’s not very visible, and I need to do another, more readable one for typodmary and all my comics. This video shows you how to make the .ico images you need for a favicon.

I also used to have twitter and instagram plugins that would allow people on typodmary to see my twitter feed, and my instagram feed, but those plugins broke. That’s another thing that happens: maybe you get a few good years out of a plugin, but then the manufacturers stop updating them, and they break. It is always sad when that happens. There are plugins I can use, but I’ve not been willing to search through them all to see what’s right for me (which is to say, if you find a good one that you like that works with comicpress, let me know!)

 

Setup (part4)

Alternate title:

WordPress, why won’t you love me?!
I’ve done everything you’ve asked for, EVERYTHING, and I just don’t know what else I can possibly do to make this work!
(with tears of frustration)

But that’s too long of a title, really, so we’ll just go with Setup Part Four.

This post assumes that you have your owe domain name hosted on a server that you can gain access to it. For the record, I use ixwebhosting – this isn’t an affiliate link, it’s juts to let you know where I’m coming from.

Step 1: mySQL

My host comes with mySQL databases. I don’t really know what this means, other than I need them for wordpress to work okay.

While inside ixwebhosting, I click on the “add new database” and follow the instructions carefully, (creating a new database user if I need to) and taking notes as to what my database name is, what the database admin’s name is, and what the database admin’s password is. After you fill all that stuff out, you’ll also need the database hostname.

Step 2: Opening up wordpress

Download the wordpress file from earlier and unzip it onto your computer. You’ll need to use winRAR or winZIP or something similar to open it. Once you extract the files you’ll need to open the folder and look for the one labeled “wp-config-sample.php”

You’re going to need something that can open that file. I use Activestate’s Komodo. If you’re going to do any sort of webdesign at all, I LOVE this program, even though I don’t use it much. If you’re just going to use it this once, that’s fine, you can delete it when you’re done (but why would you?!)

In the wp-config-sample.php file, fill out four areas. Make sure you don’t mess up the quotes, ONLY replace the text inside the quotes, and make sure you don’t add any spaces!

Replace the ‘database_name_here’, ‘username_here’, ‘password_here’, and ‘localhost’ with your notes from when you made the database in step one. (Localhost is where you copy the database hostname.) (Also, sorry if this sounds super pedantic, but I’ve messed up those damn apostrophes before, and they’re super important.)

Save this file as “wp-config” (removing the “sample” from the name.) If Komodo asks if you want it to add the php extension, say yes.

Step 3: FTP

Now you need to get this onto your server. You can use the internal ftp that comes with your hosting, but I don’t really know how to do that.

I used filezilla to connect to my host server. Filezilla is probably the easiest ftp thingy I’ve ever used. Just fill out the connection details, and if you’re really a goof like me, there’s even a “save this connection” area, so I don’t have to remember my passwords or sign-ins.

After connecting to my server with the ftp, select the domain name you want to add wordpress to by double clicking it. (I have a couple different sites on my host, and I don’t necesarrily want them all to have wordpress.)

On the left hand window is where your “Local site” is, select your wordpress folder and open it up so you can see all the folders in there, including your new “wp-config.php” file. Select all of those and drag them to your domain’s “remote site” to the right.

Now to go make a sandwich or something – it’s going to take a while for all of these to copy over.

 Step 4: Install

This is the big moment. Once everything is done copying, open a new tab in your browser, and type in your domain name. If everything went right, there should be a wordpress prompt welcoming you to wordpress, and asking you to fill out your site name, and things like that. If you’ve made it to this point without any accidents, I applaud you: I have never made it here on the first try. Just fill out your info, and you’re ready to go find some themes and play around. (I’ll write about themes next!)

 Figuring out where things went wrong

If your new site doesn’t immediately welcome you with a wordpress setup, and you’re wondering what the heck happened, well, you’re in good company. I can’t say for certain what’s happened on your end, but I can tell you where I’ve gone wrong.

wp-config inaccuracies: make certain that you don’t delete an apostrophe, and that all your text is snug in between the apostrophes in the config file. Also make certain you wrote your name and passwords with the FULL name, ie, write ‘typodsite_jenn’ instead of just ‘jenn’ when it asks for user name. You need the whole thing.

wp-config password: I have a list of passwords that I use, and copious notes on how to use them. One of the things I didn’t realize was that if I change my database user password, it changes it for every instance. Back in the old days, setting up a new database, I’d use a new “just for that database” password that was ACTUALLY linked to my name, not my database. So it changed all the previous databases passwords, and I watched them disconnect, one by one. I finally figured it out and felt kinda dumb. If this is your first database, then just remember to keep that in mind when you set up your next one.

index.html: This happened this morning to me! Anytime you have something with the word “index” on it, your site goes to that first. The new domain name came with a placeholder “index.html” file and after double checking my spelling, my apostrophes, my password – double checking everything I could think to check, I went and looked at my site through the FTP. Sure enough, after I deleted the index.html, the wordpress index.php was able to take control of the site, and suddenly everything worked!

Patience: if nothing else, find someone that knows a little about setting up websites. Have them looking over what you’ve done. Also don’t be afraid to google your heart out, trying to find a clue as to what has happened. You can also email your hosting site and ask them for help – they are incredibly knowledgeable, and can sometimes get into the guts of your site and tell you, “oh, you left out a dash here,” but they’re sometimes hard to get a hold of, and not really interested in “easy” things like wordpress setups.

Next: Setting up a Comic Press theme

Setup (part 3)

I am one of those people that has no idea how to really work with computers or electronic setups of any kind. I’m the person that when I am forced to unplug the tv or xbox for any reason, I use handfuls of carefully labeled masking tape to help me replug in everything correctly.

Websites are a bit of the same thing for me.

I’m not at all a computer person, so setting up a mySQL server sounds like the most intimidating thing I can imagine, and, well, it still is. Honestly, I’m not even sure if “setting up” is the right turn of phrase. All I know is that I click boxes, tinker with things, and before you know it–but far after you expect it, but right around when you’re ready to give up–you have a functioning (more or less) wordpress site.

If I can do this, I can at least walk you through a little bit it, and if nothing else, I can point you in some directions to where you can find better answers!

I feel as if I should point out: I’m not dumb, I just have a different skillsets, and because of this I have a variety of coping mechanisms.

For example: I take copious amounts of notes. These instructions are from a few years ago, when I was setting up another subdomain* site for a now defunct comic I was working on called “smallworld”** The notes still work though, because I used them to set up another website just this morning.

Step 1 (the stuff we do before actually touching wordpress)

Do you want to have wordpress host it, or do you want to host it under your own site name? If you want them host it, go here (https://en.wordpress.com/signup/) and follow the instructions. The rest of this blog post is unimportant to you and you are now ready for the fun “picking out a theme” game!

If you want it to look snazzy like mine, and you want to own it free and clear, and you want to do whatever you want with it, well then you’ll need to download wordpress (http://wordpress.org/download/) and keep reading!

Wait, what’s the difference?

One of the problems I’ve found when friends host with wordpress for free, (or even when you pay wordpress to host your site) is that you are limited as to what themes you can use. Now, this may or may not be true, but it certainly seemed that way when I tried to help friends who took that route. You’re also limited to how much CSS** you can affect in the guts of the site when hosting through wordpress.

The upside is that it’s cheaper.

However, as a comic artist I need to be able to go in and tweak my site and play with the art and the CSS to make the site look as visually good as I possibly can. If you’re just doing a regular blog or site, you may not have to do that. No matter what hosting you go with though, I’d strongly recommend you buy your domain name.****

Domains & Hosting

I use aplus.net to buy my domain name, and I host it at ixwebhosing.com. These aren’t affiliate links or anything, I just like their prices and their services. Check around though, you might find something cheaper that you like!

Also, talk to your friends that have their own websites: they’ll tell you who they like to use, and maybe they’ll even be willing to help you set them up! Having a friend or two go over this with you is invaluable!

Because I use two different companies (one for hosting, one for the domain) I have to do a thing where I set up the name servers. This SOUNDS complicated, but was really easy.

I logged into ixwebhosting and created a new “domain” listing using my brand new site name. They gave me the two “domain name server” names that I would need for the next step. I copied those down and logged into aplus and selected my new website. Under “managed domain” I then changed the domain name servers in the required boxes, and then sat back to wait for the next 48 hours for the changes to take effect.

It was really easy! The only dumb thing I did was copy the ENTIRE address for the new domain name server (including the numbers and dots and stuff) but I didn’t need any of those, just the part that said: “nsXX.ixwebhosting.com” and I was all set.

This is a really long post, so I’ll continue how I actually installed wordpress tomorrow!

Notes:

* Ah, remember subdomains before there was multi-sites? What. A. Nightmare.

** Too funny! Small World, Giant Monster was the precursor to Era of Great Wonders, but all I had was that I wanted to draw giant monsters. After showing John the scraps of art I’d done and begging (and pleading) with him to write it, he started Era!

*** CSS stands for “Cascading Style Sheets.” If you’ve ever done any html before but aren’t sure about CSS, don’t worry: it’s super easy to learn! I’ll talk more later, but for now, check out stackoverflow and w3schools.

****Your domain name is your website name; mine is “typodmary.com” Now, it’s a little confusing because something like typodmary.wordpress.com LOOKS like a domain that I own, but it’s not: wordpress owns it, they’re just “allowing” me to use a subdomain. If they decide to delete it, I have no say in the matter.

New Header

posted in: Web Development Struggles | 2

Welp, that didn’t go as planned.

Ideally, I wanted the art to extend beyond the sides of the browser, but I can’t seem to get a small enough that is also large enough (horizontally) to do that. I also need to move the menu down, and center it a bit more, but I’m not seeing where that code is (and I know I *just* had it, right here…)

I’m going to have to keep working on this, I think.

Also, I can NOT figure out the header in the other wordpress theme. That’s another problem: if I switch themes, it’s going to take me several weeks (at the minimum) to get it looking the way I want it to. How important is this stuff, anyways? Shouldn’t I be creating content?

Gah. More work. Slowly, but surely, it’ll get better.

MOAR Monsters!

I’m constantly hearing people talk about “branding,” and several friends have even tried to hammer the concept into my thick skull. I’m still not sure what branding is exactly, but in the interest in keeping everyone up to date with the crazy stuff I’m working on, I thought I’d share my plans for a new website design.

First off, I love love love comic easel, and I’m a bit afraid to use another wordpress theme, but the more I think about the design I want, the more I think I’m going to have to make the jump to something a little more customizable.

(Now would be a good time to show you the sketch of the website I want, but I didn’t scan it in. Sorry.)

I want to have a big banner across the top, with monsters that says “TypodMary” and then under it, something that says either “indie comics” or “subversive comics.”

One of the more interesting exersizes I’ve done is where you list ten words that “sum up” your product (which I guess is… me? Or my art? Or my comics? See – still not certain of stuff.)

When I think of the work that John and I do (and a few friends who are interested in collaborating with us,) I tend to be pretty boring and literal.

“Indie”

“Comics”

“Friendly”

“Goofy”

“Monsters”

“Unexpected” which then led me to “Subversive.”

After I hit “subversive,” I started phoning it in. I think a lot of our work IS subversive. It’s rarely what anyone ever suspects it to be. All the Growing Things isn’t just about a goofy granny fighting monsters in her garden, but rather a psychological examination of (self) forgiveness and (possibly) redemption.

Vagus Street isn’t just a story about a haunted housing project, it’s a story that examines the way things fall apart, and the apathy of decay that people permit.

Era of Great Wonders isn’t just about people surviving in a world torn apart by giant monsters, it’s about people coming to grips with their lives, and who they thought they were, and who they hope to be. (I think it’s also about the failures of systems and how decay always settles into things, because those are themes that John tends to hit.)

Era is also (if I want to get heavy handed with it) about how many people aren’t all that different from giant monsters: some things are destroyed through accident, negligence, and apathy; other things are destroyed through outright willfulness and forethought.

Our comics aren’t always what they say on the box, but there IS a certain amount of that as well. Maude does fight a lot of monsters. Vagus is a haunted place. The kids in Pangaea do live in a world torn apart by giant monsters.

So… that’s all a long-winded way of saying that I’m slowly going to be redoing the site. Right now I’m working on a banner that contains a few “keywords.” The exercise suggested taking those ten descriptions, and boiling them down to five words, and then three, and then one.

I’m wavering between “indie comics” and “Subversive comics” for the banner, and who knows, maybe I’ll do both. Either way, I think there’s going to be some more monsters, as well as some flowers, because I am into drawing monsters with flowers.

Here are some sketches of what I’ve been up to:

typobannerwip1
Monday’s sketch & start of inking

and after a little bit of work today:

Tuesday's work with more inking
Tuesday’s work with more inking

I hope to finish this soon (I’m not above cutting and pasting flowers from one end of the banner to the other!) and then I’ll be sort of ready to switch everything over to a new theme (I’m looking at the Virtue theme right now.)

Also: this is kind of a bummer, but I thought you could click to see the images big, but it’s… not… doing that. So instead, if you’re curious, you can still left click the image, and then select “view image” to see it somewhat larger. Sorry about that extra step there.

Technical Difficulties

posted in: comics, Web Development Struggles | 0

I don’t know what happened.

There was a fizzle, a pop, and then suddenly everything went dark. If I had to guess, I’d say I blew out my video card, so… uh… the long and short of it is that my work computer is busted, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to drawing comics again. I will try to use my little scrappy “barely connects to the internet” computer to post any updates about what’s going on, but there’s no way in heck we’re getting any images from this thing. I’m sort of grounded, I guess.

Um, everything also started shocking me when I unplugged things from the work computer too, so with any luck, it’s ONLY the video card that’s damaged.

I guess I’ll see everyone on the other side?

Sorry. Wow, what a bummer!

Wow, drawing with a pen and paper until this gets fixed. No Photoshop. No Manga Studio. What am I, some sorta savage?!

[EDIT: John was able to get my computer running with one gentle touch. He’s like the frigging computer whisperer, and they all love him. Me? I come into a room and things start sparking, which… when you’re having a bad day, is kind of hurtful!]

Couple of things

So I’ve been talking to my friend K about branding (AND SHE USED TO BE A MARKETER! Why do people never tell me these things?! Or… maybe they do and I don’t listen well enough?) and she sort of asked (I am paraphrasing here), “I don’t want to make you feel bad… but you’re clearly floundering… would you like some help?”

And I said, “YES PLEASE, OH MY GODS I AM SO ALONE RIGHT NOW… *sob sob sob*”

So I have decided to split the Jo Williams stuff to another website, while keeping this one mostly about non-smutty stuff. Because, let’s face it, it was making me super squirrelly and uncomfortable, and there’s only so much nervous laughter I can do before I start getting jumpy. So that site is now on it’s own. Sort of. I mean, I’m still hanging out over there. When I think of things to say.

Also: I may be in love with that wordpress theme. I may have to incorporate it here at typodmary too, but I’m worried I’ll break things again (as is my way.)

In other news, I’ve also been working on getting some cover art for Era of Great Wonders, but nothing is finished yet (because self-doubt is a hell of a thing, and it sort of increases the amount of time to finish anything by about twice as long as it would take a normal person.)

That said, I do have some works in progress to share:

I’ve been trying to remember how much I used to enjoy creating art, but honestly, all I feel when I see an empty canvas (or a cover that needs to be colored) is the feeling you get when staring into great void of distance while hearing the wind rush past your face.

It’s not quite like the emotional equivalent of being “paralyzed,” because paralyze doesn’t really capture the active sort of panic that I feel.

Hunted? Haunted? It feels closer to those words, really.

 

In a Dr. Pepper-Fueled Haze

“Fueled” is a weird word. I’m sort of thinking that it’s real, but then again, maybe it’s not? I don’t play enough scrabble or do enough crossword puzzles to know if it’s a legitimate word (because those are my standards, I guess?)

My husband is out of town, which means I have been returning to my feral semi-human state of not having changed out of my pajamas all day, and I’ve been eating cold spaghetti and drinking shocking amounts of that most forbidden of drinks: Dr. Pepper.*

I have been trying to fix the website, but not much appears to have been done because not much of what I have done has been successful. I still need to put in another mailing list . The last one was… complicated, and I forgot how to do it. The newer one is also complicated and keeps sending me passive-aggressive emails that suggest that I’m a bit of a disappointment when it comes to following through at projects.

I’m still trying to put together Namio Tristique.** I’ve been feeling the urge to work on it lately, but was a bit surprised to find out that all the art I’d previously posted has… gone… somewhere else. I know that the last year was pretty crazy for me, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t make up the whole Namio Tristique project as some sort of hallucination, so the art assets have to be somewhere on my hard drive. Right? RIGHT?

Because files don’t just disappear… right? *sigh*

I may have to scan everything in again, but that’s how it goes.

I’ve also been working up to splitting All the Growing Things into smaller, issue sized bites, that way people who want to buy it, but aren’t yet ready to plop down $20 can still check it out. Also, I think having a goal of 22 pages to shoot for is a good one for me as an artist to have, especially since I’m about 15 pages into the next book, and quite a few people have been asking about when the next one is out.

22 pages is do-able, where as another 148 pages is… daunting to say the least.

I’m also working on nanowrimo*** this year. I normally don’t do it because I tend to fail at it, but I figure that – hope springs eternal – I can do it this year! I’m already off to a pretty decent start (after a bit of a delay while we were at the Tuscon Comic Con at the beginning of the month.)

If all goes well, I’ll have a truly embarrassing piece of Lovecraftian steampunk that I’ll have to edit like crazy before I can ever show it to anyone. Ever. Still, it’s fun to do, and it’s been keeping me from playing too many video games. Which, considering that Gearbox knows the way to my  heart is paved with golden weapon drops, there has been a LOT of videogaming in the past month.

I’ve been dreaming about playing Fallout 3 again though. Is that weird? It seems weird. Maybe I should try to finish one of the other Fallout games first. Or maybe I should go back to trying to get Namio Tristique back online.

Arg. Things.

 

 

* John does not like them because he says they are “too sugary” BUT HE IS WRONG AND THEY ARE PERFECT. THEY ARE THE MOST PERFECT DRINK KNOWN TO HUMANKIND.

** I’d link you, but it’s REALLY messed up right now.

*** If you want to add me as a buddy, that’s cool and I’ll add you back; if you don’t want to, that’s all cool too!

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