‘STRIPPED’ comic strip documentary is out today!

no, clothed
Stripped co-director Dave Kellett, left, with my wife Nikki and me!

Four things about the comics documentary Stripped, which is available on iTunes today!

• Dave and Fred, the film’s directors, are trying to replicate what we did in 2010 with Machine of Death: become a #1 bestseller for just one day. We did it on Amazon; they’re trying to do it on iTunes. Machine of Death’s success opened a lot of doors for us and that book — of which there are now over 30,000 copies in print; it’s been translated into eight languages; you can get it from any bookstore; we put out a sequel with the second-largest publisher in the world. If you’re interested in this movie, and think you might get it anyway, getting it today helps Dave and Fred the most.

• I’ve never made a documentary or a feature film (though I have done shorts), but I know how hard filmmaking can be. Watching Dave and Fred work on this for four years, and then finally getting to see the finished product on a big screen in Hollywood, has been so gratifying — even vicariously! Lots of projects are conceptualized; some are labored over; few are ever finished; fewer still are actually any good. What they have done is a stunning accomplishment, and moreso when you realize they’re doing this completely independently: there is no studio, no distributor. They have made this thing exist by sheer force of will. (I know the feeling.) I hope hope hope hope hope that they will get to reap some rewards for their efforts.

• Oh hey also the DVD is on sale too, if you don’t want to get it through iTunes! It’ll be on other streaming services soon as well.

• Ryan Fisher from the comic strip “Sometime After” tweeted me the other day:

I then happened across his recent blog post about Stripped:

…As a cartoonist, if you can watch that thing and not come away jazzed over what you do, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions. That being said, I have ANOTHER reason to LOVE the documentary… STA’s in it!!!!

SERIOUSLY, RUPERT, TWITCH AND COMPANY ARE IN STRIPPED!!!! Now it may be for about a second, and you have to be paying attention to see it, but damn if it isn’t there. When David Malki is talking about building a webcomic audience and the camera shows the “Wondermark” website, an STA ad banner is sitting front and center under the comic. Now I know that for most people this is kinda like a “so?” thing, and I totally get that. But here’s why I nearly wet myself last night during my happy dance/Kermit flail hybrid that ensued after I saw it.

“STRIPPED” is a beautifully done documentary and much like things like “Draw Comics the Marvel Way” are still referenced decades later, so will this documentary. Whenever anyone wants to learn about the transition of comics from newspaper to the web/whatever medium it evolves into in the future, this movie will be referenced. And in my own small, SMALL way, I am a part of that. I will be able to sit my kids down one day, freeze that frame and explain that this is what dad was up to in college. That is incredible for me to say.

Small things we don’t even realize can reach people we don’t know and might never meet. Small acts, like buying an ad on a whim, or sending a kind email, or picking up an unfamiliar book, might have consequences we could never predict. That ad on Wondermark might not make Ryan rich and famous, but the unexpected repercussions gave him, as an artist, a jolt of encouragement. I love seeing things like that happen.

I just got back from the Emerald City Comicon this weekend! I had a really great time, better than the last few years, and have come home really optimistic and excited about everything I and my peers are doing. It’s so great to be in that environment — of creativity, of relationships, of socializing, of inspiration. That isn’t always the case at every convention! But this one, this year, was pretty great.

In 2005, I attended the San Diego Comic-Con and saw a panel on webcomics. I think it may have been the first time I heard the term “webcomics”, although I’d already been making Wondermark for over two years — I knew of Penny Arcade and Sinfest and PVP, but I didn’t really know much about the world of webcomics as a “thing” that was beginning to grow and develop.

One of the panelists, back at that convention in 2005, was Scott Kurtz of PVP. Scott and I have since gotten to know each other and become friends, or professional acquaintances, or whatever it’s called when you respect someone’s work and like talking with them but don’t always see eye-to-eye. Anyway, on this occasion, Scott was leaving the panel, and I stopped him in the hallway to ask a question about website layout. He very kindly paused and gave me some advice, which I took.

Now fast-forward nine years, to last weekend. I was the one on stage at a panel, this one about independent publishing. It’s never an ideal situation, trying to give information in a panel — you have to talk in generalities, and you can’t go into a ton of detail in the time allotted, and everyone’s experience will be different and not everything you say will be relevant. But a few people told me they got some good info out of it, which I’m happy about.

On my way out of the panel, two ladies who had been in the audience stopped me in the hallway to ask me a question. I’m glad that they were bold enough to do so, and I offered what I hope was helpful advice.

As I walked back to my booth, I recalled that moment with Scott years ago, and I was briefly struck by how seamlessly the circle had closed. Being on the other side of that interaction reminded me how much has changed in the last nine years and how far I’ve come. And it was a moment also charged with the possibility of the future: of the wonders we have yet to see and discover and create, and the artists we have yet to meet, who are going to be up there giving advice nine years from now.

I felt I had to go find Scott at his own booth and tell him what had happened, and I did so. I’m sure he didn’t remember our initial encounter from 2005, or if even he did, had never connected it to me. I kinda surprised myself by getting a tiny bit choked up as I talked with him! But I was glad for that encounter: it felt like an indication, in that moment, that I was doing okay.

Little moments. Little moments mean a lot. Little moments add up to lifetimes. You never know what little thing will mean the world to someone else.

The ladies I spoke with were Alisa Bishop and Aimee Zhou, both amazing artists (to judge from their sites). I hope we’ll see work from them and a million other artists in this amazing Renaissance of comics that we’re in the middle of right now. The film Stripped will be an important part of the canon of this time, and I’m honored to have been a part of it.

Stripped is available on iTunes and on DVD now.

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