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The Anatomy of a Calendar Order

not enough steps

I took this (only slightly staged) picture of my desk in the process of packing up the VERY LAST outstanding Wondermark calendar order. All orders placed in December have now gone out the door!

Due to overprinting by the printer, I still have a handful of calendars left, and I’ll keep the product page active until they’re all spoken for.

I am down to just a few of the special Deluxe Edition stands in particular, so that particular product may go out of stock before the “classic” stand or the refill-only calendar cards.

Now that the Kickstarter has ended, I will no longer be enclosing Kickstarter-exclusive Cast Cards — although if this’ll be your fifth calendar or more, go ahead and tell me so at checkout, and I’ll still send you the Calendar Ace card. YOU DESERVE IT.

I’ve heard from several people who missed the Kickstarter and have been happy there was still time to snag a copy!

This won’t always be the case every year, but as of right now, extra copies do me no good sitting on my desk. I would rather you have them! Order now, and your calendar will ship ASAP.

(It’s also not too early to order Valentine cards! I will have no new designs this season, but there are plenty from previous years available still.)

The anatomy of a calendar order

The reason I posted the above photo isn’t just to make you jealous with how cool my desk is. (I made it out of a tabletop I found in an alley! Story for another day.)

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you probably know that I like to tinker. I like to make things!

I have a workshop, and things like the calendar and its stand, or my new wooden magnets, or the various one-off special projects I’ve made over the years, all came about because I learned some new tool or technique, and pushed myself right to the bleeding edge of making something interesting with it.

In fact, here’s something I made this week for a calendar order going to Brazil…

I have had, shall we say, less than perfect success with mailing merchandise to Brazil in the past, so I asked this recipient if he had any tips for getting the package safely through customs.

“Books usually make it OK,” he said. So, I made his calendar into a book, using an old Yellow Pages:

I don't understand. What are yellow pages used for, if not this?

First, I carved out a calendar-shaped hole.

I picked the wrong day to stop sniffin' glue

A little white glue stiffens the cut edges so it doesn’t all fall apart into confetti.

I picked the wrong day to stop eatin' paste

As a container for a calendar, it could now technically work as-is… But I don’t like things to look messy, so I covered the unsightly opening with kraft paper, the same way I do with potholes on my street.


The industrial chopper makes short work of any ragged edges caused by the pages getting rustled around in the carving and gluing steps.

You know, I actually stopped myself and thought, ''This isn't acid-free!''

It’ll need hard covers of chipboard so it doesn’t bend in the middle, where big chunks of paper are missing. Here I measure and make the hardcover assembly, or “case.”

It still does kinda function as a yellow pages

Gluing the textblock into the case is called “casing in.”

What, no chocolates?

Eventually the phone book covers found themselves glued into the case to serve as endpapers. The kraft paper serves as Page 1.

And I wrapped the whole thing with a book cover I designed years ago for an entirely different project.

I’m not sure if I succeeded in making the package any less conspicuous — I could have chosen a different title, perhaps…


There are also a lot of great jokes on the back cover that you’ll just have to imagine!

This is the sort of thing I love doing. Not because this customer ordered a jacked-up phone book, but because it was the most fun way to solve the problem.

With this year’s calendar, the tenth anniversary and the abilities of my new workshop coincided in the creation of the Deluxe Edition stand…


You’ve heard me describe it previously at length; I’ll spare the details.

It’s way more complicated than the previous version stand, because it requires assembly and it requires a bunch of pieces made out of all different materials, which is a many-step process.

It wasn’t until I’d committed to packing up 300 calendars that I realized that somehow, I’d created a product and a task for myself in which EVERY SINGLE PIECE that went into an order required an absurd multi-step process to create.

So once I could catch my breath after all the packing and shipping, I sat back and took stock. The picture at the top of the post is an ENTIRELY TYPICAL example of a calendar order for some person. It includes:

  • The 2017 calendar, as a card set
  • The Deluxe Edition stand, to hold the cards
  • The commemorative Cast Card plaque and a Calendar Ace card
  • An order of 4 Wondermark magnets
  • The packaging and accessories for all the above items

Significant to note is that not only did the calendar, the ostensible purpose of the order, require creative development – all the other things in this order did too, and they required assembly as well.

When I actually counted how many discrete steps went into putting together all the pieces for this one order, it was over 50.


(Click on this image, or open it in a new tab, for a closer look.)

The calendar required being signed, numbered, collated, and packaged.

The stand required being assembled along with its component pieces into a sort of mailing frame, which itself had to be designed and manufactured.

Same with the Cast Cards, in a parallel but entirely separate process.

The magnet set, which isn’t part of the calendar itself but was included here as a premium with the Kickstarter order, had its own production and assembly chain, both for the magnets themselves and the little packet I designed so they could ship flat. (Otherwise they stick to one another in a clump.)

Even the box they all ship in requires a few steps of taping and trimming that’s above and beyond what you might normally do for a mailing box. (To keep weight down for international orders, for example, I trim off any unnecessary extra length in the cardboard flaps.)

I don’t list it all out here to brag, that’s not at all what I’m getting at — rather, I’m trying to reckon with myself; trying to examine how the simple process of making a calendar evolved into something this baroque.

I’ve somehow fallen into a gravity well whereby everything I do has to be elaborate.

The only answer I have is that it’s… fun?

I mean, I get a lot of satisfaction out of laser-cutting a jig out of cardboard so that I can send something flat as a USPS Large Envelope, rather than all jumbled together in a bubble mailer as a Package.

It’s not just about spending an afternoon to save a dollar…It’s about feeling like I did my best, like I brought all my cleverness and creativity and resources to bear, and in doing so ended up with the best product I could make.

(True story: For the aforementioned jigs, I actually cut up and used the cardboard from the boxes USPS themselves used to send me an order of bubble mailers. You can’t buy the satisfaction that comes with that stupid little accomplishment.)

I am happy to have done the Deluxe Edition stands this year, although I’m also now happy to be done with them.

I am continuing to send out unique Cast Cards every month to Patreon subscribers (this last month’s featured the Phryday creature from the culmination of the Eternal Monday saga — a 5-part storyline which started here.)

I have other cool things in the planning stages too!

And although it might seem like I’m not learning my lesson, continuing down this path, I do indeed learn something new with each new project, something I can build on for the next one.

To those of you who have little pieces of my dumb ideas littering your home, I hope they bring you a tiny bit as much joy in the using as they have me, in the creating.

Grab one of my last few calendars! Take them off my desk, so I can start the next project…


2016 Errata

It’s January, which means it’s time for our grudging and obligatory corrections post, where we revisit the comics posted in 2016 and sheepishly admit where we got it wrong.

#1190; In which Brunch is exotic
Benton neglected to heighten the bit by mentioning that his corporate Amex was, in point of fact, a “green card.”

#1203; No Time like the Present
Rather than falling onto “a boat that then sank,” investigators later determined that the boat had already been in the process of sinking when Mr Whiltbang fell onto its deck, holes having previously been shot in its hull with a shotgun by Mr Whiltbang immediately prior to the fall in question.

#1207; The Hall Pass
Today, Carl Kasell’s voice is offered (by “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”) for your “voicemail,” not your “home answering machine.” With no specific mention of the fact, it would be impossible for the casual reader to know that this particular strip actually takes place in 2005, so the term used reads as an error.

#1209; Talk and Awe
The Bingus Gabberdeen Show video montage referenced here was delivered to an audience largely like-minded, but perhaps not entirely. It may have even changed the political opinions of some people, rather than no one. However, in the end it didn’t seem to have helped.

#1210; The Biscuit Burglars
It was pointed out that this fundamental joke was already done, albeit in somewhat different form, by the French cheese company Boursin in a television commercial some 26 years ago. Not sure how I could have missed that one. I have sent Boursin the requisite $10 for “stealing their joke.”

#1217; In which History comes Alive
Alexander probably pooped outside of a vase a few times, as a child, before he got the hang of balancing on the rim.

#1233; In which a Traveler is lost
Another brazen and shameless example of joke theft!! It was pointed out to me that this basic scenario has been mined in the past for comic effect on Kids in the Hall in 1991; the UK’s Big Train in 1998; and Family Guy in 1999, possibly among others. Truthfully, I probably saw that Kids sketch years ago and filed it away, deep in the ol’ subconscious. If revisiting a joke premise is so horrible, why did the latter shows copy Kids in the Hall????

#1249; One Nation, Indivisible
Dating roughly from the invention of the telegraph, this notional civic world based on agreed-upon facts ended up lasting about a century and a half.

Wondermark regrets the errors.


2015 Errata2014 Errata2013 Errata2011 Errata / 2009 Errata / 2008 Errata

Last call for magnets! And a SECOND CHANCE for calendars!

stick around

I will be shipping the final orders of the year very soon and then shutting down my store for the holidays! UPDATE: That time has come! You can still order something if you like, but it will sit patiently in a queue and ship out when I return to the office in January.

If you would still like to get magnets (pictured above), greeting cards, stickers, etc., please place your order by THIS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18. Orders placed after that date will ship in January. Thank you as always for your kind patronage!

My TopatoCo store is still shipping shirts, books, comic prints, and other gewgaws as well, although time is drawing short over there as well.

pictured: Ilda Fritt, Hero of the Sport

Our calendar project on Kickstarter wrapped up spendidly, and the first batch of those orders will (hopefully) be leaving my hands on Monday! UPDATE: They have indeed!

If you pledged for a calendar in the first wave (i.e., you didn’t choose the “No Rush” option) but you haven’t given me your shipping address yet, please look in your Kickstarter account messages; there should be a survey waiting in there from me.

While I am pleased with how the campaign went, I’m still hearing from a lot of people who missed out! Usually I cut off the orders because there simply isn’t enough time to get everyone’s order sent out before year’s end.

But this year, I am ALREADY planning on sending a second wave of orders in early January (for folks who very graciously indicated that their calendar didn’t necessarily need to get there by Christmas). I’m also super proud of this year’s calendar and of course want everyone to enjoy it!

So, today I am opening up extra slots for anyone who missed the Kickstarter but would still like to reserve a copy in the second wave.

This will be the only other chance to get one — once these are gone, that is it until next year, FOR REALSIES. You can still order the special deluxe stand if you choose, too (I won’t rehash all the specifics from the Kickstarter; you can read all about the different options over there if you like).

Once all the Kickstarter orders ship, I will do one last roundup shipment for this final batch, and you can expect them in January. If that sounds okay to you, then here you go!


Check out: Podcast interview on ‘Comics Manifest’


I just linked to an interview I did for a podcast! Now here’s ANOTHER ONE!

It’s called Comics Manifest, and it is about giving inspiration to and sharing war stories with creative people:

Comics Manifest is a podcast that interviews amazing and influential creators in comics. Guests share their creative journey, express what excites them today, share their worst creative moment and most memorable successes. The show aims to inspire, giving you the insight and inspiration to take your comics projects to the next level.

Did I tell some of the same stories as the last podcast? Only if they asked the same questions!!

Comics Manifest Episode 64 : David Malki ! ]


LAST DAY for the 2017 Wondermark Calendar!

It’s the LAST DAY to reserve your copy of the 2017 Wondermark Calendar! The campaign closes at 6:30pm Pacific time, Tuesday, December 6.

Since I last mentioned it, I posted a 30-second version of how I will be making the special deluxe edition desk stands:

And, I just posted a Kickstarter update with a little bit more about the famous athletes that will be populating this year’s calendar.

All the world's an irregular diamond

I’m very grateful for all the support so far in this new way of doing the calendar (on Kickstarter) and I look forward to sending them out later this month!

SPEAKING OF SENDING OUT: I’ve just gotten confirmation from the printers that our two newest greeting card designs are ready, and all orders including “Song” and “Snowman” will now ship out ASAP. Sorry for that brief delay! (I think they had to actually make the snowman to see if it was workable in real life.)