Last Few Days for Artist Editions; Shirts on Clearance

Here are some more Artist Edition book drawings I did earlier this week! This Sunday, the 30th, is the last day to pick up one of your own. (They won’t be available again before the holidays, so, you know. Think ahead.) UPDATE: They’re done! Thanks, everyone!

Here’s a ROCKET + BEAR:




For this final week I’ve changed up the Roll-a-Sketch options, and Marksman George C. has updated his randomizer script accordingly! Thanks, George!

Also, a note about the strange sweepstakes: I’ve gotten a few reports that the submission form is occasionally buggy. I haven’t been able to reproduce the error myself, but if you encounter any problems, just email me the same info from the form (dave at wondermark dot com). The deadline for all submissions is Sunday, September 30. UPDATE: Also done!

This is also a good time to mention that TopatoCo has just put some of my shirts on clearance for only $12:

Steam Powered Heart

Trailer Shirts – All Audiences and Restricted Audiences

International Fraternal Corps of Bears In Ill-Fitting Hats

PLUS the three-shirt-discount (five bucks off when you get any three shirts on the entire site) still applies, PLUS TopatoCo has a new program where you can submit a photo and get a $10 gift certificate!

It’s like…I dunno, guys. It just might be an amazing time to be alive.

Sketches from MoCCA!

Thanks for coming and saying hello at MoCCA last weekend! It was a fun show. I loved being in New York, and it’s always super encouraging and energizing to meet nice people who have nice things to say.

Some of you were clearly nervous, but don’t worry! It was adorable. I get nervous sometimes too. I did not think you were weird. This is the first time in a very long time that I can confidently stamp a show as “WEIRDO-FREE.” I did not meet a single weirdo all weekend! (Until I got on the subway, of course. But that’s a different story.)

Mediocre Sketches

As I normally do, I was offering Mediocre Sketches to all and sundry. As I normally forget to do, though, this time I had the presence of mind to take some pictures!

I usually ask the sketch requester for a suggestion of what to draw — unlike other cartoonists, I don’t have easy characters to just whip out a sketch of. Most people prefer to leave the choice to me (as in the above), which is fine, but I also got some good requests!

“Octopuss in Boots”

“Elephant Chef”

“Dignified Portrait” (click for bigger)

Machine of Death

I also managed to whip up a portable Machine of Death to administer mortality predictions on the spot. Normally this sort of thing is done in a van with an autoclave and a stack of waivers and a full counseling crew on-hand, but in a pinch I made do with a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie.

Dresden Codak‘s Aaron Diaz was my dapper model for this demonstration (with thanks to Chris Hastings for the pics):


The Story Gains a Villain (Kind of)

Wow. It’s been an ingranzzible week. (Still have to make up new words to express this properly.)

Machine of Death rose to #1 on Amazon and stayed there for over twenty-four hours. We accomplished everything we set out to do. Agents, publishers, retailers, distributors, well-wishers and the press have been flooding our email inbox. I can’t stress this enough: It worked. We won!

Once we hit #1, I called an agent I’ve worked with in the past — one who’d tried to sell MOD before but just couldn’t find anyone who wanted it — and he sprung instantly into action. Doors that were once closed started positively flying open before us. Although some big publishers have now approached us about buying the rights and doing a new edition of the book, we have declined. That ship has sailed. We are the publisher.

We also realized that we had an opportunity here to gain a level. We could have struck a deal with a publisher, potentially even a lucrative one, that would have been nice in the short term and could probably have led to interesting places. But we have larger goals than just signing a book deal, and we realized we could play the long game here, not just for our benefit — but for the benefit of our friends and colleagues in webcomics as well.

And so in the last few days, using resources offered to us that previously would have been absolutely inconceivable, we have laid the groundwork for a complex but amazing publishing/distribution structure that, in the future, should hopefully allow us to get not just Machine of Death, but also all TopatoCo-published and TopatoCo-partnered books into regular bookstore/retail channels, both in the U.S. and abroad. Ryan, Matt and I are harnessing this amazing rising flood-tide to lift all the boats we can find, all the ropes we managed to grab hold of when the waters hit.

Much has yet to be settled on this front, so I will simply say it remains a carefully considered work-in-progress and I expect to make more important announcements about this in time.

And something else kind of incredible has happened as well! We didn’t know it, but apparently Tuesday was also the launch date for Glenn Beck’s new book, Broke. Our book at #1 (as well as Keith Richards’ autobiography at #2) prevented him from claiming the top spot, and so he called us out on his radio program Wednesday. Here’s the audio (about 3 minutes long), or if you like, there’s a transcription over on the MOD site.

If you don’t want to listen, here’s the executive summary: (a) His book is supposed to be #1. (b) The fact that it’s not, but ours is, is evidence of a liberal “culture of death” that is threatening to take over America and destroy everything sensible folks hold dear, a menace that can presumably only be stemmed by folks buying his book and making it #1.

Let me contextualize this for you, in the form of a parable in which all of the details are true.

A young entrepreneur, the son of a self-made immigrant small-business owner (a God-fearing Protestant who’d married a girl from a family of missionaries), had a crazy pie-in-the-sky idea. Having learned the rudiments of business by working since he was small in the family store, he struck out after his goal, investing himself into something he really believed in, inspiring both colleagues and strangers to join his cause even as “big business” slammed door after door in his face. For years he toiled long into the night, gradually growing his own small business by being as honest, kind and creative as he could manage. Ultimately, in a tremendous Rudy-like moment, he and his ragtag band of reg’lar folks — for one glorious day — accidentally made the twelfth book by the multimillionaire host of “the third-most-listened-to show in all of America” debut at #3 on one single bookseller’s list, rather than at #1.

I guess I can see his point! I am clearly the bad guy here. Part of “a culture of death” that “celebrates the things that have destroyed us.”

Now, listen. I honestly don’t begrudge Mr. Beck his book’s success. As Ryan put it, he asked his audience to buy his book, and they did! It’s the same thing we did, only his audience is bigger. His priority is selling books by any means necessary, and if we were a handy (if nonsensical) scapegoat, then that’s business. Like Ryan, I just think it’s tremendously funny that he got upset when all we did was bumble past him on our own merry way!

MOD is still under $10 on Amazon if you’re interested in joining the culture of death! I promise that every new sale is another tiny pea beneath Glenn Beck’s many mattresses.

Speaking of my own small business: as fun as all this continues to be, I really need to announce a few non-MOD events and items. For continued MOD excitement, please follow our blog (via RSS or email), or visit our new MOD Facebook page where folks are posting pictures of the books they’re starting to receive in the mail! What an exciting time for them! Because they have a big thick shiny new book to enjoy. And we’ve been gratified to see that, internet grassroots campaign or no, people really are loving the content of the book too. Hooray!

Now then:

It is not a new T-shirt, it is a sketch that I made in a book! Artist Editions are now available! (More examples here.) This is something I only do twice a year: I’ll create a custom unique sketch in any Wondermark book (or all the Wondermark books!) just for you. They won’t be available long: only through November 7. Then I’ll sit down and draw them all (when I’m at the TopatoCo HQ next week for the New England Webcomics Weekend) and they’ll ship out starting on November 8!

MOD is also now available on TopatoCo, if you want to bundle an order together. (MOD orders also won’t ship till Nov. 8.)

Lincoln smashSurvival smashHeart smash
Heart smash

TopatoCo is also having a clearance sale on T-shirts this week only: through Halloween (I know, not much time, sorry, I been busy) all discontinued items start at only $15. These are shirts that won’t be reprinted, so whatever’s left in each size is all that’ll ever exist. If there’s something you want, grab it now before it’s gone for good!

Finally, all this weekend, Friday through Sunday, I’ll be at the Long Beach Comic-Con, sharing a table with good-time fun-pal Dave Kellett! Friday (today!) at 2pm we’ll be doing a panel called Webcomics Lightning Round, in which we answer all of your questions about webcomics in 20 seconds or less. I’ll also have some new posters as well as Monocle Poppers greeting and holiday cards at the booth all weekend! Booth #407.

The MOD podcast launches next week. Next week you also get five Wondermark comics because you did some stuff right. If anyone knows how to make a Kindle .mobi file please email me. UPDATE: We’re set for now! If anyone knows how to make 30 minutes of sleep seem like a week please email me. You guys are the best and I wouldn’t have this any other way.

Airplane fish are a GENRE now.

Twice a year, I offer my books in “Artist Edition” — I create a custom unique sketch in every book, for those that desire it. Patrons of the most recent offering are well familiar with my fixation on “flying fish,” by which I mean strange hybrids of fish and aircraft (or fish and armored vechicles, or insects and aircraft, or land mammals and construction equipment). Here are some examples from this spring’s series of Artist Editions:

I will be honest with you: I have harbored furtive dreams of turning this particular subject into an oeuvre, of creating larger and ever-more-complex tableaux of sea creatures/aircraft, engaged in all sorts of aerial hijinks in glorious, full-painted color. (The sketch at the top of this post was an expression of this urge to refine and develop the theme.)

Well, thanks to diligent reader and frequent correspondent Kevin S., I have learned that apparently someone else had the same ideaRoland Tamayo:


…although I should point out that my inspiration, and perhaps Tamayo’s as well, was and is the surrealist vehicular work of Stan Mott:

I believe this more comprehensive collection may be Stan’s official site, but with respect, it’s miserable to navigate. However, if you have a little patience you’ll find the charming “History of Tanks” illustration series there, which I’m sure is why 90% of the sketches I’ve done at conventions in the past year have featured tanks in some fashion (usually attached to African wildlife).

Finally, consider this your official warning that the fall Artist Edition series will become available very soon! Before the moon is full! October is going to be a big month, I’m just brimming with exciting news. ALL IN GOOD TIME.